'Relax visa rules for Indians' demand MPs

The UK must relax visa requirements for Indian workers and students coming to Britain if it wants to strengthen its post-Brexit ties with the world's largest democracy, a parliamentary committee said in a report on Monday.

David Sapsted 240619a
At present, the UK is, "falling behind in the global race to engage with a rising India" and the government needs to "reset" its relations with New Delhi, according to the House of Commons foreign affairs committee report, ‘Building Bridges: Reawakening UK-India ties’.Easier visa and immigration policies for Indian students, tourists and professionals would be key to rebuilding this relationship, said the MPs.

UK’s relationship with India one of ‘missed opportunities’

"The story of the UK’s recent relationship with India is primarily one of missed opportunities," the report said. “There is no excuse for the migration policies that have led the UK to lose ground in attracting Indian students and tourists who not only contribute to our economy but build lasting bilateral ties.“The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) should ensure that the goal of improving the overall relationship with India is woven into the broader government migration policy. Something has gone wrong, if it is more difficult for citizens of a strategically important democracy that shares our values, language and history to visit or study in the UK than those of an autocracy such as China.“As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it is time to reset this relationship. We cannot afford to be complacent or rely on historical connections to deliver a modern partnership."

Calls to relax visa restrictions for Indian students 

The Indian government has long been calling on London to relax visa restrictions but, a year ago, the UK government caused outrage when it failed to include Indian students on an expanded list of 'low-risk' countries – which included China – that could use a simpler visa application process to attend British universities.In the 2010-11 academic year, 39,090 India students attended higher education institutions in the UK. In 2017-18, the total was 19,750, although even this was significantly higher than the 16,550 in the previous academic year.Tom Tugendhat, a Conservative MP who chairs the committee, said, "More than a million people of Indian heritage currently live in the UK. Our international interests are guided by similar principles: we have strong links through a diaspora, trade, investment, education, tourism and security interests. And as democracies, we share a strong stake in upholding the rule of law."Despite these opportunities, the UK has failed to give the relationship the attention it deserves. We missed an important symbolic opportunity to issue a full apology on the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and recognise wrongs that also punctuate our shared history."As new powers challenge the structure of global trade and dispute resolution, we cannot miss the opportunity to partner with India. Trade, security, a shared commitment to the rules-based international system – these are all factors in our growing and evolving partnership.

UK government needs to build bridges with India

"The government needs to make sure the UK is making its support for India clear, reawakening the ties between us and building bridges that are made to last."In a statement, the FCO said, "India is a key partner for the UK. "We have a unique relationship that is broad and deep. That's why we are working together to build our prosperity, champion the rules-based international system, and address common threats and challenges."We describe as a 'living bridge' the exchange of people, culture and ideas between our two countries – not least the almost 1.5 million Brits of Indian origin in the UK.

Technology Partnership will create high-value jobs

"Our partnership also looks to the future through the Technology Partnership, which will create high-value jobs in economy and was launched by Prime Ministers May and Modi when he visited the UK last year. Together we are a force for good in the world, whether that's by tackling climate change or by building more sustainable cities."* A report last week from the UK digital industry group Tech Nation showed that Indian applications for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas for digital technology recorded a 45 per cent increase in 2018-19.Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory