More Indians arriving illegally in UK by boat

LONDON: The latest UK home office statistics show that the number of indians crossing the The Sleeve on small boats has soared in the first three months of this year, making them now the second-largest cohort after Afghans. It also emerged that the majority of Indians who entered the UK illegally via boats were from Punjab, apparently attracted by job opportunities in Britain.
Between January 1 and March 31, 2023, a total of 3,793 people arrived via small boats, of which the most common nationality was Afghan (909, 24%) followed by Indians (675, 18%), new data shows.
The number of Indians almost matches the total number that arrived in 2022, when 683 Indian nationals illegally crossed the English Channel from France in small boats. Indians then constituted only the tenth largest nationality.
Most Indian migrants arriving on small boats in Britain are from Punjab, Delhi and Gujarat, with the majority being Punjabi, he said Satnam Singh Chahal, executive director of NAPA (North American Punjabi Association), which assists illegal Indian migrants worldwide. “They are all male aged between 18 and 35. The main reason is for employment and they see the future is bright in the UK. They cannot find how to come legally as work visas are hard to get for the UK,” he told TOI from California.
He said the common route was to obtain a legal tourist visa for France, Greece or Serbia, and then cross the English Channel Calais illegally on a dinghy. “It’s not very difficult to get a visa to Serbia or Greece. They pay agents big sums and arrange a visa for them,” she said. She said the agents have offices in places like Chandigarh, Jalandhar and Delhi and subcontract to unlicensed sub-agents in the villages and towns of Punjab.
Once in the UK, they apply for asylum. In 2022 a total of 3,248 Indian nationals applied for asylum in Britain, although only 4% of them were successful in their initial decision. Those rejected, however, could still appeal. Indians are now the ninth nationality to file asylum claims.
While waiting for their asylum application to be examined, they work illegally in restaurants or in agriculture. “If they don’t know English, they might be working with a Punjabi businessman or doing dishes in restaurants,” she added. A recent week-long crackdown on illegal employment by large company delivery drivers resulted in 60 arrests across and south London, including Indian nationals. Interior Ministry squads arrested moped drivers of Brazilian, Indian and Algerian nationals for offenses including holding illegal work and possessing false documents.


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