U.K. offers easier visa scheme for Indian businessmen

November 07, 2016 12:00 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 10:50 pm IST - New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Theresa May arrive for a group photograph ahead of the India-U.K. Tech Summit, in New Delhi on Monday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Theresa May arrive for a group photograph ahead of the India-U.K. Tech Summit, in New Delhi on Monday.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May has offered a first of its kind frequent traveller scheme for Indians travelling to Britain for business that will speed up their entry into Britain even as Indian IT firms have expressed concerns about proposed changes to the U.K. visa regime.

Under the scheme, Indian nationals who frequently come to the U.K. and contribute to growth in both countries will face a ‘significantly easier’ entry process. “Fewer forms to fill out, access to the EU-EEA passport controls, swifter passage through our airports — in short, more opportunities for Britain and India and a very clear message that Britain is very much open for business,” Ms. May said.

Free trade

In her first bilateral visit outside Europe, Ms. May dispelled worries about post-Brexit protectionist policies, saying the U.K. is committed to free trade and keen to take the bilateral relationship with India beyond the ‘taken for granted’ approach adopted by her predecessors in recent years.

Stronger trade and investment ties between India and the U.K. need not wait for Britain’s exit from the European Union, she emphasised. However, a formal free trade pact or investment treaty can only be completed after Brexit procedures are complete, reiterated Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman later in the day.

“As Britain leaves the European Union, we are determined not to turn our backs on the world, but to forge a new global outward looking world for ourselves. Because we know from history, what happens when countries do not embrace the opportunities of the world … they stagnate, they get poorer, they don’t protect their people and make them worse off,” Ms. May said, stressing that Britain is the most passionate and committed advocate of free trade in the world.

“We must also recognise that it’s not just the legal framework that is essential for effective trade and investment, it is people too. It is crucial that those who do need to travel between our countries for business can do so,” Ms. May said, while addressing the U.K. India Tech Summit in the capital on Monday.

Best visa services

“India now has one of the best visa services for the U.K. in the world, with more application points than any other country and the only country where it is possible to get a same-day visa. That happened because we listened to what businesses are saying,” she said.

“And we are still listening, listening to the fact that so many people from India want to bring their ideas, skills and business to Britain for the good of your economy and ours. So we will offer for the first time to any country that needs visas to enter Britain what is called a registered travellers scheme,” the British PM said.

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