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Mr. Modi raises issue of Brit visa policy

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G-20 summit is just concluded in Chinese city of Hangzhou. Headlines had to say much about strategic discussions at the summit. Much of such strategic discussions don’t yield any` feasible results. They happen in a globule of media limelight, hence appearing to be important, yet not being far less relevant than any seasoned call between two random under-secretaries in two governments. What concerns us here are the issues related to India’s participation in the Summit. India offering $500 million line of credit for defence cooperation to Vietnam, India discussion China’s involvement in Pok, Prime Minister Modi slamming Pakistan for spread of terrorism etc. were the ones making headlines. In these headlines, what went unnoticed was the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his British counterpart, Mrs. Theresa May. Media reports suggest they discussed a whole range of subjects including British firms’ investments in manufacturing in India, other geo-political and strategically important issues. Mr. Modi focused substantially on UK’s visa policy.

A foreign ministry spokesperson said, “Prime Minister also touched on UK’s visa policy. In particular, he said that the new UK regulations could have negative impact on Indian working professionals wishing to visit UK for short term business visits.”

As per new visa policy, non-EU workers will need to earn at least 35,000 pounds to remain in the UK for longer than six years unless they are working in a PhD-level occupation or a job which is on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List, including nurses. The threshold was raised from the salary requirement of around 21,000 pounds per annum on advice from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

This issue comes at a time when Britain is already burdened with the Brexit and economic implications arising out of the same. At such a time increasing requirements for potential small time investors and highly talented, yet cheap workforce may not be good for the British economy. Further considering that Britain is no longer the only preferred destination for Indians and a number of opportunities lie elsewhere, increased visa requirements should have a negative impact on the British Economy. On the other hand such a requirement are also against the Indians willing to work in UK. Perhaps this along with the fact that repatriation of their earnings forms a large part of India’s foreign exchange earnings, motivates Mr. Modi to bring up this issue at the meeting on the sidelines of G-20.

This meeting and discussion does not mean much, except for initiating some form of dialogue on the issue. It will take a while before any tangible progress can be seen and both British businesses and Indian professionals can benefit from the same.

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