In order to reach a trade agreement with India, the UK plans to soften immigration rules by granting cheaper and easier visas for Indian tourists, students, and professionals.
The UK’s international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, is expected to fly to New Delhi later this month to begin formal negotiations on a planned India-UK free trade agreement (FTA).
According to the reports, Trevelyan is anticipated to use this visit to open the possibility of reducing immigration requirements for Indian citizens, which is crucial demand from New Delhi.
While she has the support of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who has put strengthening ties with India at the top of the government’s priority to counter China’s growing influence, Home Secretary Priti Patel is opposed to the idea, according to the source.
Patel and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar signed a ‘bespoke’ and reciprocal Migration and Mobility Partnership (MMP) in May last year to allow roughly 3,000 students and professionals every year to obtain work experience benefits in either country.
Both sides have committed to working toward an April 2022 deadline for implementing the new system as part of the MMP. Work already started at the High Commission in London and the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.
However, under new immigration policies in the works, one alternative being considered is a programme similar to the one agreed to as part of the UK’s FTA with Australia, which would allow young Indians to come to the UK and work for up to three years.
According to the research, another alternative would be to reduce student visa payments, allowing them to stay in the UK after graduation for a while, maybe to build on the Graduate Route visa under the present points-based immigration regulations.
There may also be fee reductions for employment and tourism visas.