India-UK to boost work visas for Indian nationals, enhance migration cooperation

The agreement will allow thousands of 18-30-year-olds to work and live in each other's country for up to two years. [Courtesy]

India and the UK have signed an ambitious new migration partnership, which will see both countries benefit from a new scheme for young Indian and British professionals to live and work in one another's countries, thereby boosting work visas for Indian nationals and enhancing migration cooperation between the two nations.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and Indian Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar signed the 'Migration and Mobility Partnership', which aims to make it easier for British and Indian nationals to live and work in each other's countries, whilst also enhancing cooperation on combatting immigration crime and fraud.

It will also enhance UK-India cooperation to protect many Indian nationals who obey immigration rules, by stopping unfair manipulation of the system by a small minority who breach the terms of their visas or enter the UK illegally, said a British High Commission statement.

"The UK Government is committed to deliver an immigration system that offers clear opportunities to the brightest and best talent from India and around the world to come to the UK to study, work and live. This ground-breaking new partnership with India is an important milestone in delivering on that commitment," said Patel.

"It will give greater freedom and opportunity to thousands of young people in the UK and India wanting to experience each other's cultures, whilst also ensuring that we can work together to protect the vast majority of Indian nationals who do play by the rules," added Patel

The agreement includes special Young Professionals scheme to allow young Indian and British professionals to work and live in each other's country for two years - the first such scheme for a visa-national country (countries that require visit visas to visit the UK).

The agreement will allow thousands of 18-30-year-olds to work and live in each other's country for up to two years.

The new deal builds on the previous announcement of new post-study Graduate Route (opening on 1 July 2021).

The British High Commission in a statement said that the partnership forms part of the UK Government's commitment to deliver an immigration system that attracts talented individuals from India and around the world, whilst enhancing UK-India cooperation on ensuring the system is fair and secure.

"This past year has shown what the UK and India can achieve to address shared challenges - from our best and brightest delivering a Covid-19 vaccine at record-breaking speed to the invaluable medical supplies we have provided each other," said British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis.

"The landmark Migration and Mobility Partnership announced today will create new opportunities for young Indian professionals in the UK whilst also enhancing cooperation to ensure our system supports genuine workers and students," added Ellis.

"Indian student numbers to the UK are growing fast, and nearly half of all UK skilled work visas go to Indian professionals - contributing significantly to shared prosperity and mutual understanding. I'm confident the new the post-study Graduate Route and Young Professionals scheme will significantly increase those numbers," said Ellis.

The deal builds on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's ambition to deliver a quantum leap in the UK's bilateral relationship with India.

According to the most recent statistics, more than 53,000 Indian students came to the UK to study last year, up 42 per cent from the previous year. Nearly a quarter of all international students in the UK are from India.

In addition, the new post-study Graduate Route - offering eligible graduates two-three years to stay back after studies in the UK - will open for applications on 1 July 2021, offering yet another route for talented young Indians to build careers and experience in the UK.