London: Britain is planning to ease immigration rules by offering cheaper and easier visas for Indian tourists, students and professionals in an effort to strike a trade deal with India, a media report said on Saturday.
UK International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is expected to visit New Delhi this month when formal talks on the proposed India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are expected to begin.
As reported by The Times newspaper, Trevelyan is expected to use this visit to open up the possibility of easing immigration rules for Indian nationals, a key demand of New Delhi.
While she is backed by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has put closer ties with India at the top of the government’s agenda to counter China’s growing influence, Home Secretary Priti Patel opposes the move, the report said. has gone.
In May last year, Ms Patel signed a ‘bespoke’ and reciprocal Migration and Mobility Partnership (MMP) with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, to provide around 3,000 students and professionals in any country with the benefit of a year’s work experience. So to receive.
Under the MMP, the two sides have agreed to work towards an April 2022 deadline for implementing the new system, with the High Commission in London and the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi underway.
While further immigration plans are reportedly being worked out, attention is being paid to an option agreed as part of the UK’s FTA with Australia, which would allow young Indians to come to the UK for up to three years and Will give you a chance to work. years.
Another option would be to cut visa fees for students, allowing them to stay in the UK for some time after graduation, possibly on graduate route visas under points-based immigration rules, the report said. Construction is underway, the report said.
Work and tourism visa fees can also be cut.
Currently, it can cost up to GBP 1,400 for a work visa to an Indian citizen, while students pay GBP 348 and tourists GBP 95 respectively.
These are in stark contrast to visa fees for countries like China, which have to pay much less.
Indian-origin colleague Lord Karan Billimoria, president of the Confederation of British Industry, has been one of the most vocal advocates of reducing visa fees for Indians.
“I expect the FTA to increase bilateral trade and be as broad as possible. Movement of people; Reduction in duties and tariffs – the duty on Scotch whiskey is 150 per cent, which has to be greatly reduced; educational cooperation and cooperation of our countries. Between cross-border research is going to be huge and partnering on a green industrial revolution. There is a vast array of ways to really enhance trade and trade between our two countries,” he had said.
A senior government source told The Times that ministers had acknowledged that the price of a trade deal with India would be to make a “generous” offer on visas.
“The technology and digital space in India are still extremely protectionist and if we can open up even a portion of the reach, it will take us further in the game,” a government official was quoted as saying.
The UK government has repeatedly said it wants an agreement that removes barriers to doing business with India.
According to the Department for International Trade, preparations are on to start negotiations for a UK-India FTA since the conclusion of the bilateral working groups.
Trevelyan and his Indian counterpart, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, held talks during the G-20 trade ministers’ meeting in Sorrento, Italy last October, on “final preparations” to start India-UK FTA talks this year. can be discussed.
A UK government spokesperson said, “We look forward to starting talks early this year. India is projected to become the world’s third largest economy by 2050, and a trade deal will be India’s 2nd opportunity for UK businesses.” Will open up huge opportunities for doing business with a trillion dollar economy.” ,
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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