India flags visa concerns to British PM Theresa May
India on Monday flagged its serious concerns to Britain over its stringent visa norms and hike in threshold limit of annual pay of working professionals to get the travel document even as Prime Minister Theresa May announced two visa programmes, primarily for Indian corporates.
At the same time, May said her government will consider further improvements to its visa offer to India if speed and volume of returns of Indians “with no right to remain” in UK is stepped up to which the Indian side conveyed that it will follow international practice and a proper verification process.
May while announcing the UK offer of two new visa services to improve business travel for Indians to the UK said that under the Registered Traveller Scheme, business travellers will get expedited clearance at the UK border and that India will become the “first visa country” under the scheme.
Under the second programme, she said the Indian Government will become the first government in the world to be invited to nominate business executives to the Great Club, a bespoke visa and immigration service.
During the talks with May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged India’s concerns over stringent student visa norms which require students to return home after their courses end.
The norms has led to fall in Indian students enrollment in British universities by 50 per cent.
The number of study visas issued to Indian nationals fell from 68,238 in 2010 to 11,864 this year, official UK figures show.
Earlier, addressing India-UK Tech Summit with May in attendance, Modi asked Britain to relax student visa rules saying greater mobility of young people must be encouraged while the British Premier said her country has a “good system” for applications.
The contentious issue figured prominently during bilateral talks between Modi and May. “We flagged our concerns regarding students visa issues, visa issues regarding business travellors and other issues relating to bonafide travellors to the UK,” Joint Secretary (Europe) in the External Affairs Ministry Randhir Jaiswal told reporters.
The UK has also raised the threshold limit for salary from 20,800 pounds to 30,000 pounds to get work visa which is expected to impact the Indian companies, particularly those in IT sector.
Asked about May’s reported comment that the onus was on India to call back those overstaying in Britain, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the issue has been that the UK wanted the “so called returnees” to come back based on their verification.
He said India has been maintaining that it will go by verification at its own level.
Jaiswal said India will “play by the international rules” on the issue. “As and when UK approaches us giving the proper documents for issue and verification of nationality and issue of travel document, we will do what is required to take back our nationals.”
India asks UK to extradite Mallya, Christian Michel
India on Monday asked Britain to extradite nearly 60 people wanted by it, including liquor baron Vijay Mallya and Chirstian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, for bringing them back to face justice here.
India and Britain also agreed to hold annual strategic dialogue at the level of Union Home Secretary to jointly deal with issues like terrorism, organised crimes, visa and immigration matters.
The Indian list of around 60 wanted people was handed over to Britain during the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Theresa May.
Britain also handed over to India a list of 17 people whose custody it seeks under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or against whom Letters Rogatories had been issued, official sources said.
While industrialist Vijay Mallya has been accused of money laundering, Chirstian Michel is the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal.
The two countries agreed not to allow fugitives and criminals escape law and resolved to facilitate outstanding extradition requests.
In talks between Modi and May, the issue of extradition requests figured and officials dealing with the issue from both sides were directed to meet at the earliest.
May joins Modi in seeking action against those backing terror
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday joined her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in demanding strong action against those who support terrorism and provide sanctuary to its perpetrators after he voiced deep concern over cross-border terrorism, in an obvious reference to Pakistan.
The leaders called upon Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of the November 2008 and 2016 terrorist attacks in Mumbai and Pathankot as May condemned the terror strike on the Indian Army Brigade headquarters in Uri in September. As many as 19 soldiers were killed in the attack.
Terrorism and Indo-British economic ties were the key subjects at the talks here between Modi and May, who arrived last night on a three day visit to India, her first bilateral trip outside Europe since becoming Prime Minister in July after the Brexit vote.
The joint statement issued after the talks said they strongly affirmed that terrorism is a serious threat to humanity and reiterated their strong commitment to combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They stressed that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever while agreeing there should be zero-tolerance to terrorism.
In an obvious reference to Pakistan hailing Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani as “martyr”, the joint statement said, “There should be no glorification of terrorists or efforts to make a distinction between good and bad terrorists. They agreed that South Asia should be stable, prosperous and free from terror and called on all countries to work towards that goal.”