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September 27, 2012

UK seeks to keep immigration blacklist of Indians, Pakistanis secret

     London: UK’s Foreign Office has appealed against a ruling that it must publish a secret blacklist of 44 countries whose nationals face tougher immigration measures when applying to come to Britain, which include Indians and Pakistanis. It claims that by ‘naming and shaming’ the countries, diplomatic relations could sour and British travelers could be penalized by having their own visas restricted. Most countries on the list are thought to be in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East . The Foreign Office argued against publicizing those nations deemed to be ‘high risk’ at an appeal hearing launched by the Home Office. According to the Telegraph, it has been challenged to reveal the so-called ‘rogues gallery’ by immigration detention activist, John O, who claims that by keeping the list secret, those whose applications are challenged have no way of knowing whether such decisions were lawful. The list was established last February in response to warnings that certain entry clearance officers were not complying with equality legislation, the report said. The UK Border Agency discovered that those based in Abu Dhabi and Islamabad were discriminating against Pakistani visa applicants by demanding far more documentation from them than those from the Gulf states , the report added. Most countries on the list are thought to be in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East . Susan Simon, the FCO's director of migration, reportedly said: “Although many countries will be aware of the security concerns posed by their nationals, some would be highly offended if the UK raised these concerns publicly”. “Many countries use visa and immigration policy as a foreign policy tool, reflecting their attitudes towards certain countries and the value of certain relationships. They expect us to do the same," Simon added. The FCO also argued that it could also risk overseas contracts for British companies and would "create or increase the perception that the UK is not open to visitors or business from those countries," the report added.
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