The United Kingdom is planning to introduce large-scale relaxations in the visa requirements for applicants from India.
Condition for trade agreement
The governments of the United Kingdom and India are currently in discussion on a major trade deal. One of the conditions India has set is to make it easier for Indians to apply for the UK visa. Although the two countries have traditionally had close ties, many Indians still face problems when applying for visas to travel to the UK. One of these issues is the price. A student visa costs about £350, while a work visa costs £1400. For a tourist visa, one has to cough up almost £100. In comparison, the the e-visa for India costs £39.95.
The British government is considering reducing the price of student visas for Indians. Under the new rules, students with visas would also be allowed to stay in the UK for a period after their studies. In addition, the British government is also considering creating a special work visa for young Indians. This visa would allow them to live and work in the UK for a period of three years.
Supporters and opponents in British government
With the new trade agreement, the British government hopes to get an early foothold in the rapidly growing Indian economy. Economists predict that with the current growth rates, India will be the third largest economy in the world by 2050. India has high import duties. The United Kingdom hopes to be the first Western country to conclude a reciprocal trade agreement with India. Prime Minister Johnson says that with this agreement, he is fulfilling one of the promises of Brexit, the conclusion of trade agreements with countries outside the European Union.
The British Minister for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, will travel to India in January to further discuss the agreement. The Foreign Secretary also hopes for a successful outcome to the negotiations. However, Home Secretary Priti Patel opposes the trade deal with India. Patel is known as a hardliner against immigration.
E-visa flexibility for India for British nationals
Normally, travellers from the European Union and the UK can apply for an e-visa to travel to India. The India e-visa can be used for tourism, business trips and medical treatment. However, UK travellers are unable to apply for an e-visa to India at the moment. India had implemented this measure in autumn 2021 after the UK tightened travel rules for Indian travellers due to the corona outbreak. Although the UK government has since relaxed the COVID-19 measures for Indian travellers again, the Indian government refuses to make the e-visa portal available to British travellers again. To travel to India, they have to apply for a paper visa, which can take months. With the new trade agreement and the accompanying visa relaxations, the British government hopes that India will again allow British citizens to apply for e-visas to India.