UK gains popularity among visitors and students from India

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show strong growth in the number of visas granted by the UK government to applicants from India.

Young person putting India's flag up on wall
The rise comes as the UK and India seek to reinforce their trade and cultural ties with initiatives, including the UK-India Week in June and an official four-day visit by India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, in April.

Student visas sees third successive year of growth

According to the ONS, the UK government department, the number of UK visas issued to Indian nationals continues to experience strong growth. Its data shows:
  • 550,925 Indians were granted UK visas in the year ending June 2018, a 10% increase on the previous year
  • Visit visas increased by 10% to 454,658, which demonstrates that Indians are continuing to choose the UK as a holiday destination
  • T4 visas granted to Indian students touched 15,390, an increase of 32% on the previous 12 months
  • Over 6,500 Indians came for short-term study in the UK during the same period. This is the third successive year that student visa numbers have increased
  • India continues to receive more UK work visas than the rest of the world combined. Over 60,000 work visas were issued last year.

UK increasingly a destination of choice

Announcing the figures in August, British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith, said: “The latest figures reinforce a trend we have noticed for some time – that across the board more and more Indians are choosing the UK as a destination to visit, work in and study. This is fantastic.“I’m particularly pleased to note that numbers of Indian students have increased by 32%. I welcome this evidence that international students wish to study at our world class institutions and are succeeding in securing places there.”

Positive figures amid fears

The data showing strong growth might allay concerns raised earlier this year by Lord Bilimoria in an article debating the issue in London’s business-focused newspaper City AM.The founder of Cobra beer and president of the UK Council for International Student Affairs said he believed Britain had missed out because of its “hostile” immigration policy. Among his concerns were the discrepancy in costs Indian business and tourist visitors, who pay higher visa fees for a two-year multiple-entry visa than people from China.

Visitors to India "surge"

India is also seeing increased inbound movement. The government is streamlining immigration processes to support economic growth and international business partnerships.Reflecting India’s growing economic influence, the next EuRA Global conference will take place in Goa, India, in November. Preeti Roongta of Lexagent, a panellist in the session "Immigration – The state of the art, India and Asia", comments: “Indian Immigration has evolved by leaps and bounds in the last few years. These are exciting times for our industry. There are deliberate changes in the functioning of the immigration department dealing with various services like visa granting, in-country renewals, FRRO services, de-registrations etc. “The introduction of the e-Business and e-Tourist visa has seen an unprecedented surge in visitors from all 166 countries, boosting the business environment and making it easier for companies to make relocation decisions."

Making Digital India a reality

Preeti Roongta continued: "Some of the landmark technological developments are the introduction of IVFRT (Immigration, Visa and Foreigner’s Registration and Tracking), e-Business, e-Tourist, e-Medical visas to 166 countries, biometrics at Indian missions abroad (phased roll-out), digitisation of the In-country Registration process (FRRO) and visa renewals, eliminating document submission, launch of Consular Services Management System (MADAD) addressing grievances of Indians abroad, and many more."This is part of the current government's Digital India Initiative (E-Governance), which strives towards transparency, effectiveness and efficiency. I look forward to meeting with industry experts and learn about their views on Indian immigration."For related news and features, visit our India pages. EuRA's third Global Conference will take place in Goa, 14-16 November 2018.
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