Immigrants from "high-risk" countries could be forced to pay thousands of pounds in "security bonds" under a proposal brought by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, according to a report in today's Independent.
Mr Clegg has instructed the Home Office to implement a trial run of the deposits by the end of this year in a bid to deter visa overstayers.
Although a list of 'high-risk' countries has not been drawn up, it is believed to include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka as well as a number of Middle Eastern countries.
The bonds would cost at least £1000, rising to as much as several thousand pounds depending on the visa applicants' circumstances and country of origin, with the amount repaid once an immigrant leaves the UK.
Mr Clegg, who praised the work ethic of Asian migrants at The Indus Entrepreneurs Awards night earlier this week, has described the bonds as a "powerful new tool" against illegal immigration, the newspaper reports.
The newspaper quoted from a speech Mr Clegg is expected to give on Thursday: “The challenge isn’t just stopping people coming into Britain illegally, it’s about dealing with individuals who come over legitimately but then become illegal once they’re already here.”
Mr Clegg will add: “The bonds would need to be well-targeted – so that they don’t unfairly discriminate against particular groups. The amounts would need to be proportionate – we mustn’t penalise legitimate visa applicants who will struggle to get hold of the money.”
The leader of the Liberal Democrats will also announce proposals for stronger action against companies and business owners who employ illegal workers with a plan to double the current fine of £10,000 per employee.
The speech is seen as a significant change in his party's stance on immigration but Mr Clegg has already run into conflict with one of the most senior members of his party, Business Secretary Vince Cable.
In an interview with Parliament’s The House magazine earlier this week, Mr Cable attacked the Tories’ target of cutting net migration to less than 100,000 a year, saying it is not the Coalition’s policy.
Mr Cable said the target was “unattainable” without “enormous damage” and was only achievable if the Tories “increase the number of British people emigrating”.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS