Theresa May has rejected calls to relax Indian visa rules, saying the UK has a ‘good system’ for applications.
Since new rules came into force in 2011, India’s local media have reacted disapprovingly to increased restrictions on student visas , leading to a drop in the number of international students coming to the UK.
The Prime Minister was in Delhi from 6th to 8th November in her first bilateral visit outside Europe since taking office.
She is aiming to deliver on her ambitious vision for Britain after Brexit, forging a new global role for the UK beyond the continent of Europe, pledging for an economy that works for all, by introducing new and emerging enterprises, as well as more established players, to the key Indian market.
Ms May met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss developing the strategic partnership between the UK and India, building on the deep links and co-operation shared by the two countries.
Alongside Prime Minister Modi, she inaugurated the India-UK TECH Summit, South Asia’s largest technology conference.
The Indian diaspora plays a vital role in UK national life with approximately 1.5 million people of Indian origin in the UK and Indian companies currently employing over 100,000 people in the UK.
India is now the second largest international job creator in Britain, with 7,105 new jobs created across the country in the past year.
Ms May says she now wants to pave the way for the UK’s first post-Brexit trade deal, and said the UK was already able to attract ‘the brightest and the best’ from outside the EU.
She added: “Nine out of 10 visa applications from India are already accepted.”
During the meeting, the British Prime Minister also announced that the UK would make it easier for wealthy Indian businessmen to come to the UK.
A small group of high net worth individuals and their families will be offered access to the ‘Great Club’ – a bespoke visa and immigration service – to make visa applications run more smoothly.
Thousands of Indians on work visas will also be able to join the ‘Registered Travellers Scheme’ which will mean they can get through UK border controls more quickly.
Ms May said: “As we leave the EU, we want to ensure that the UK remains one of the most attractive countries in the world to do business and invest.”
She added: “Trade is an important part of our relationship with India.
“India is the third biggest investor into the UK – second biggest creator of private sector jobs in the UK. And the UK is the biggest G20 investor into India, but there is more we can do.”
The PM said her visit would overlap with business deals between the two countries worth hundreds of millions of pounds.