Poor pickings

September 5, 2003

Why do we have a visa system ("Home Office rejects call to ditch visa fees", THES, August 22)? Surely it is to control immigration and maintain national security.

The beneficiaries are thus taxpayers, not visa applicants. They are the "users" that Alan Underwood, senior director of managed migration at the Home Office, says should pay.

Poor countries have long extracted hard currency from visitors by charging for visas, but it is shameful that relatively rich countries such as ours now seek to do the same.

Malcolm MacCallum
Queen Mary, University of London

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