The Curse of the Green Passport
Slowly leaking the cauldron of visa policy now toppled- unleashing the simmering curse upon the green, singeing through the globe, destroying or at least irritating many in its path. Policy making is tricky business. The impact can be so widespread and diverse, complete foresight seems daunting, even with tools like randomized controlled trials to study policy popularized by MIT’s Poverty Action Lab.
So what is this curse?
Hordes of paperwork and long processing times for student visas, frequently making students miss first two weeks of term?
Demands for odd kinds of evidence often disadvantaging the more deserving- fat bank statements, proof of friendship?
Wasted savings on high visa fee upon request rejection?
Doesn’t seem problem enough?
Imagine you are a student going to study in the UK (or US or Australia) having gone through an excruciating admission process meeting all criteria (entry and language, grade equivalence etc) but the permission to enter the land.
a UK resident with saving enough to dare travel a bit of the European continent but cannot just book a deal online and getaway? Without a month long visa process and an even longer the wait times for appointment to submit application.
a foreigner with a green passport in Shenzhen, China and encountering a medical condition that hospitals in the mainland are not confident in handling or insurance does not cover in the mainland hospitals, therefore rendering crossing the border to Hong Kong the safest option?
In this modern age where the human rights advocates from the western world actively demand freedom to live as one desires through passionate appeals for same-sex marriage and rallies demanding freedom to criticize and speak one’s mind. Somehow the freedom to book the cheapest flight without the hassle to get a transit visa, to simply cross the border to attend a job fair etc does not make its way to the list of rights.
Immigration and visa policy in the UK, separate lines with humiliating security checks on the US border for example turns a step-sibling glance to the green passport holders. Even in Hong Kong, that has long ceased to be British territory green passports (Pakistan, Indonesia, Ghana, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Bangladesh) are not granted access like other nationalities. Recently, there has been vehement Indian criticism on requiring high- risk country visitors to pay a bond of £3000 to the home office before they are to enter the UK. The abolition of Post Study Work Visa (PSW) has already received adverse reactions from target markets and will impact the talent pool that the UK attracts every year. With recent decision to allow Romania and Bulgaria free access to the UK while restricting its green step brothers signals double standards. The reasons behind the strict immigration and visa policies in countries like the UK enforce maybe numerous and valid but so are the counterproductive effects. Unequal and non-standard policy may soon unleash this snake on its feeder.