A proposed trade agreement between the UK and India could be scuppered if the UK does not reform visa restrictions faced by Indians who want to come to Britain, according to reports.
India is one of the key nations that Prime Minister Theresa May is keen to sign a trade agreement with once the UK has left the European Union. However, Indian officials have warned that the country will expect some concessions on the free movement of people as well as goods and services.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was visiting India to speak to government officials and business people about proposed free trade agreements post-Brexit.
But one official told The Independent: that “mobility issues are of importance to us; we cannot separate free movement of people from the free flow of goods, services and investments”. Another said that “curbing the flow of good minds” would not be good for the UK in the future.
India is concerned about restrictions both in the number of its students who will be permitted to study in the UK and in the number of skilled IT workers coming to Britain on UK visas to work. The numbers of Indian students choosing to study in the UK has fallen since the right to remain in the country to seek work after graduation was removed. In 2015-16, a total of 16,745 Indian students studied in the UK, falling from 29,900 in 2011-12.
India’s High Commissioner to the UK, Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, said: “There is something going wrong here because the UK has obviously been the first preference for Indian students. We need to see how we can ensure that the UK gets or attracts good students from India. Indian students are doing extremely well wherever they go.”