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India to monitor UK visa issue

UK recently announced a pilot project wherein those who indent to visit the country will have to pay a 3,000 pound bond in cash to check widespread misuse

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

The government on Friday said it would await the outcome of the proposal mooted by the British government to introduce an experiment wherein those intending to visit will have to pay a hefty cash bond of £3,000 (Rs 2.77 lakh).

“This is a work in progress. They are still mulling it over. We should wait until we hear from them on what is their view. They are well aware of our concerns,” Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson, ministry of external affairs, told reporters here on Friday.

He added the matter would be discussed in detail at the India-UK consular dialogue, expected late next month. “They have told us that this matter will form the basis of discussion this time.”

India has also raised the issue at the diplomatic level, Akbaruddin said.

Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma had strongly raised the issue during his stay in London. He’d met Vince Cable, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills; Oliver Letwin, minister for government policy in the Cabinet office, and Gregory Barker, minister in charge of business engagement with India.

According to Marcus Winsley, director, press and communications, British High Commission, “The government intends to run a pilot scheme for such bonds, tightly targeted at a small number of visa applicants assessed to pose a high risk of overstaying. But no decisions have been taken on the detail of how such a pilot scheme would work in practice. Any such scheme will be designed in a way that does not cut across the UK’s wish to be open for business, students and tourists.”

The project proposal is aimed at addressing British concerns on misuse of a visa, thereby reducing the risk of overstaying. For this they have categorized some “high risk” countries -- India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana.

The proposal has been slammed by Indian business as well, which has termed the scheme “discriminatory and unfortunate”.

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First Published: Sat, June 29 2013. 00:35 IST