The young Chinese community reacted in disbelief and frustration to the new Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) rule announced by the Home Office. Since the announcement in 13th March, hundreds and thousands ofmessages flooded the LinkChinese UK online message board. Some were confused and puzzled, most were surprised, many felt angry and betrayed. The new rule most of people felt resentful is the immediate implementation of the switch from 4 year to 5 year ILR qualifying period for employment-related migrants.

Home Office announced in its website that starts from 3rd April, 2006, applicants for ILR have to live and work in the UK for continuous 5 years instead of 4 years. This new rule mainly affect migrants with two categories of visa, Work Permit and Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP). Most of the young Chinese professionals currently in the UK are in those categories. This change was included in the new immigrantion bill presented by Secteray of State Charles Clarke to the parliament, which is expected be rolled out next year. However only a couple of days later, Home Office announced the new 5 year rules will be implemented almost immediately and retrospectively. This sudden announcement surprised many applicants, who expected either the new rule will only take effect next year, or it won’t be applied to those who get Work Permit or HSMP before the new point-based system starts. Under the new ILR rule, people who apply for ILR immediately after 3rd April will have to instead apply for an one-year extension. Many people are particularly frustrated by this retrospectiveness. Some on the message board quoted the document they received from the Home Office when applying for HSMP that after four years of stay they would be able to apply for ILR. They said they planned they career and future partially based on this promise and now felt being ‘cheated’. Indeed, the same document is still available on the Home Office website after this new announcement.

Among the heated discussion and expression of frustration, some suggested that people who are affected by the rules should take legal actio against the Home Office, in particular they will ask the rules not to be applied retrospectively. Some also suggested to write to their local MP. However most of them feel anxious and helpless facing the authority that seems only want their contribution but would never listen to them.