The UK is planning to relax immigration rules by offering cheaper and easier visas for Indian tourists, students and professionals, in an attempt to clinch a trade deal with India, a media report said on Saturday. UK International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is expected to travel to New Delhi this month, when formal negotiations on a proposed India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) are expected to begin
with the Current immigration plans reportedly in the works, one option being looked at is a scheme similar to that agreed as part of the UK’s FTA with Australia, which would allow young Indians the chance to come and work in the UK for up to three years.
Another option would be to cut visa fees for students, thereby allowing them to stay in the UK for a period after they graduate, possibly building upon the Graduate Route visa under the points-based immigration rules currently in place, the report said.
There could also be reductions in the fees for work and tourism visas.
At present, it can cost an Indian citizen up to GBP 1,400 for a work visa, while students pay GBP 348 and tourists GBP 95 respectively.
These are in sharp contrast with visa fees for countries such as China, who have to pay significantly less…
India is projected to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2050, and a trade deal will open huge opportunities for UK businesses to trade with India’s GBP 2 trillion economy,”
Indian nationals accounted for 97 per cent of ICT contractor visas issued by the UK in 2019, with a large part going to the IT sector. This category allows employees to carry out work for a third-party organization whilst still being employed by the sponsor. In 2019, total ICT contractual visa applicants in the UK were at 26,745 while those through the conventional route were 15,549. The numbers for both categories halved in 2020, but officials attribute the sharp decline to the ongoing pandemic.
Skilled worker visas Making a case for allowing ICT visa-holders an option to stay permanently that is offered to those on Skilled Worker (SW) visas, the report states that migrants may not know their settlement intentions when they first arrive, or these may change over time, but migrants working in the UK on an ICT visa make meaningful contributions to the UK economy through taxes, skills and services.