According to the Guardian, UK ministers are eager to relax immigration restrictions in order to make it easier for thousands of Indian citizens to live and work in the country as part of upcoming trade discussions. The proposed offer will be discussed when International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan visits Delhi later this month, according to the Times UK.
Easing immigration laws for Indian people is a top priority from New Delhi. The International Trade Secretary is thought to have the support of Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, who wants to limit China’s expanding influence in the region.
Meanwhile, they are likely to face stiff opposition from Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is opposed to the deal. Patel signed a customized’ and reciprocal Migration and Mobility Partnership (MMP) with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in May last year to allow around 3,000 students and professionals every year to enjoy work experience benefits in either nation.
Under the MMP, both the countries committed to working toward an April 2022 deadline for implementing the new system, with work already started at the High Commission in London and the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.
According to the Times UK, visa liberalization alternatives under discussion include a program similar to one negotiated upon with Australia that would essentially allow Indians to live and work in the UK for up to three years.
A further option would be to reduce visa fees for graduates and allow them to stay in the country after they graduate. Visa fees for work and tourism, which can range from £400 (US$540.83) to £1,400 (US$1,892.97), could also be decreased as compensation.
Fees for work and tourism visas could be reduced as well. A work visa can currently cost an Indian person up to £1,400, while students pay £348 (US$470.53) and visitors pay £95 ($US128.44). These are in stark contrast to visa fees for countries such as China, which pay far less.
UK ministers consider that a trade agreement with Delhi would give British businesses an advantage in what is expected to be the world’s third-largest economy by 2050. It is also possible that Britain will take the lead because India does not have bilateral trade agreements with either the United States or the European Union.
According to reports, ministers have agreed that a ‘generous’ offer on visas might be the price for such an agreement.
According to a senior government source, ministers have agreed that the price of a trade deal with India will be a liberal offer on visas. A government official was reported as saying, “The tech and digital sphere in India are still tremendously protectionist, and if we could open up even a sliver of access, it would put us ahead in the game.”
The UK government has stated repeatedly that it desires an agreement that lowers the hurdles to doing business with India. Preparations for the start of discussions for the UK-India FTA have been ongoing since the conclusion of bilateral working groups, according to the Department for International Trade.
The Trade counterparts of India and the UK met last October at the G-20 trade ministers meeting in Sorrento, Italy, to discuss final preparations for the start of India-UK FTA negotiations this year.