India, UK in Deadlock Over Visa Curbs In Free Trade Deal Talks

As India and the UK navigate towards a possible free trade agreement, the focus remains on visa and travel limitations. While strides have been made in trade discussions, hurdles related to social security exemptions for short-term workers and concerns over student regulations take center stage.
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Negotiations between India and the United Kingdom for a potential free trade agreement are at the forefront, with a spotlight on visa and travel restrictions. While significant advancements have been made in trade discussions, both countries are grappling with challenges surrounding the mobility of individuals.

India-UK Trade Deal

  • India is seeking easier visa access for its citizens to work in the UK.
  • The UK is reluctant to make any major changes to its immigration rules.
  • India has offered to slash duties on Scotch whisky and other goods in exchange for visa concessions, but the UK has so far refused to budge.
  • The UK government is concerned that relaxing visa rules would lead to an influx of low-skilled workers from India, putting pressure on public services.
  • India is also seeking legal assurances about the rights of its students in the UK. The UK has recently introduced tough new rules that make it more difficult for students to stay in the country after they graduate.

Visa Exemptions for Short-Term Workers

India’s push for eased visa restrictions and increased access to the labour market has taken centre stage. India seeks exemptions from social security payments for its citizens working in the UK on short-term assignments.

Presently, Indians on brief stays are required to make social security contributions, which can be forfeited if they do not meet minimum residency requirements.

Also Read: UK to Launch Short-Term Visa Scheme for EU Workers

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Concerns Over Student Regulations

The UK’s regulatory environment for Indian students has emerged as a point of concern. Stringent regulations have been introduced, barring students from having accompanying family members during their studies.

Additionally, efforts are underway to limit the duration of post-course stays in the UK for students.

Complexities Beyond Trade

The discussions, spanning thirteen rounds, have touched upon various trade aspects. However, it’s crucial to note that visa constraints and labour market access are outside the realm of trade negotiations. These issues fall under immigration matters overseen by the UK’s Home Office.

Outcome of Negotiations

The two sides are hoping to reach a deal before the UK’s general election next year, but it remains to be seen whether they will be able to overcome the visa issue.

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The outcome of the negotiations will have a significant impact on both countries. A successful deal could boost trade and investment between India and the UK, but a failure could damage relations between the two countries.

Conclusion

India and the UK are facing a major hurdle in their free trade negotiations: visa curbs. India is seeking easier visa access for its citizens to work in the UK, but the UK is reluctant to make any major changes to its immigration rules. The outcome of the negotiations will have a significant impact on both countries.


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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travelobiz.com, he's passionate about writing.

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