3000 Pound Visa Bonds: UK Cabinet Split over Decision

September 25, 2013
A controversial plan by the UK government to impose a  3000 pound visa bond for visitors from countries like India seems to have hit a roadblock.  It seems divisions in opinion are showing within Britain's conservative-led coalition government.  The proposal mooted in June, was to be piloted from November. The scheme requires visitors from certain countries including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria, to deposit 3000 pounds for a six-month visa, to be forfeited, if they overstay in the UK.

The Indian government has protested the move, terming it a "retrograde measure", and "negative step" which should not be taken. 

Negative impact on Indian immigration and relations

In the UK, a warning of the negative impact the yet-to-be-finalised scheme was conveyed by UK business secretary Vince Cable, of the Liberal Democrat Party. He said the scheme would have an impact on relations with India.

"The reaction to it from our friends in India and elsewhere, where we are trying to build up relations, was one of outrage," reports quoted Cable as saying.

"In government, I and Nick [Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat Party leader and UK deputy prime minister] are arguing for the much more sensible and flexible approach to the bond," he added.

Cable now plans to urge his Tory colleague in cabinet UK home secretary Theresa May, to reconsider the proposal.

Retrograde and negative

It may be noted that, the Indian government had expressed strong objections and sought full details on the application of the scheme.
Following his meeting in London, with UK's Business Secretary Cable, India's commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma had assured that the UK government will only take measures considering the strategic and important partnership (with India). 

"I will go by the affirmations which were made and assurances that have been given at the highest level of British government, unless and until anything to the contrary is confirmed or approved," Sharma had said. 

"As far as we are concerned, we have made it abundantly clear that after the successful visit of (British Prime Minister) David Cameron and the clear assurances that have been given, the growing partnership that exists between India and the UK, this would be a retrograde measure and negative step and should not be taken," Sharma had told reporters.

Originally an alternative measure

Interestingly the scheme was the brain-child of Clegg, Cable's party leader and ministerial colleague. 
Cable, clarified that, Clegg's idea was to make it easier for people - whose visa application get rejected - to visit UK, by paying the bond as an alternative measure.  

However, some of his colleagues in the coalition interpreted it in a negative way proposing that everyone who applies for visa from high-risk countries should pay the 3000 pound bond. 

"What Nick Clegg actually proposed was that if somebody in the subcontinent, for example, is turned down for a visa, they could as an alternative come up with a bond. Had that proposal been accepted I think most people would not have seen a problem with it," Cable was quoted as saying.

Will it get dumped? 

With the difference of opinion having emerged in the UK Cabinet, over the proposed scheme, Indian visa aspirants will hope that the plan gets aborted.
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