Theresa May, UK’s Prime Minister, defends the visa system for Indian immigrants, in the midst of requests on letting in more workers to UK as a stipulation for a free-trade deal in the future.
May, landed in India on November 6th to meet her Indian counterpart in New Delhi, Narendra Modi, for talks on strengthening bonds post Brexit. The British PM stated that 9 out of 10 visa applications from Indians have already been accepted.
It is her first visit to a non-EU country in a post Brexit scenario and both countries are hoping to make lasting associations. However, May’s comments on being “happy with the existing system” might disappoint business leaders in India, who’ve been calling for more access to work in UK which will be a “key demand” in trade dialogues.
The British PM stated, “We have a visa system for countries outside the EU which ensures the brightest and the best are able to come to the U.K.
“I think the figures show that we issue more work visas to India than, I think, to the U.S., Australia and Canada and China put together. Nine out of 10 visa applications are already accepted.
“We have, I believe, a good system,” she added.
Indian officials have communicated that enhanced visa access be a compelling feature during trade talks. Last week, the Confederation of Indian Industry head Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, said that it will be “very important for business that people have more access to work in Britain, and this will be a key demand in any trade talks.”
Restraining immigration into the U.K has been a priority of May since becoming PM, and she maintains that the June 23rd referendum was an evident indication of concerns from the public about the issue.
However, as it withdraws from the EU, U.K. is hopeful of gaining significant business investments from India.
On the same lines, Downing Street has stated, prior to May’s travel, that the government will ease border checks for business travelers from India and initiate a new deluxe visa system for senior executives.
Indian business folk travelling to U.K. will now have the advantage of ‘registered traveler scheme,’ which eliminates the requirement of filling in a landing card upon every visit and allows fast-tracking at e-passport gates. This reform would place Indian business travelers in the similar category as those from Australia, the U.S, Japan and 6 other nations.
The government of India would also be solicited to nominate “high net worth individuals” for access to U.K.’s premium visa & immigration services — nicknamed ‘the Great Club’ — which presently benefits only about 100 persons worldwide.
This will be the 1st time any government has been invited to nominate individuals for this service. For senior business executives who’re offered the service, a personal account manager will be provided to boost their applications to enter UK.
India’s insistence on additional temporary visas for professional workforce proved a hurdle in India’s talks for a free-trade deal with the EU and is possibly going to cause hindrances for Britain as well, especially after May’s commitment to restrain immigration.
Her squad hopes that the relaxed border checks for business travelers will be considered an act of good faith in India’s capital. It is estimated that the ‘registered traveler scheme’ would benefit around 10,000 Indians in its first two years.