Visa bond proposal not considered by British govt

Visa bond proposal not considered by British govt

India on Tuesday said the British government has conveyed that the proposal to collect hefty visa cash bonds from Indians has not been considered.

This was conveyed to Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma by Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills during a meeting in London.

According to an official release in New Delhi, “Cable informed the Indian minister that he had discussed the issue with the British Home Secretary who had assured that a proposal was mooted for a pilot scheme which has not been considered by the British government.”

This came after Sharma expressed serious concerns during his meetings with Cable as well as Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government policy in Cabinet office over news reports referring to a proposal to categorise India as high risk country entailing cash bonds from visa applicants.Sharma also suggested that given the strategic India–UK partnership, a formal clarification to this effect would be in order to dispel any apprehension and avoid confusion.

According to a “Sunday Times” report, the British government is planning to pilot a scheme from November targeted at visitors from at least six countries, including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana.

Tourists aged 18 and over would be forced to hand over 3,000 pounds for a six-month visit visa, which they will forfeit if they overstay in Britain. Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission has been asked to seek more official details on the proposed scheme to assess its implications. “The ministry has asked our mission in London to find out official details on reports about a possible new scheme that the UK is trying to introduce that may have implications on Indians visiting that country,” spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said. Expressing concerns over the UK’s proposal, industry body Ficci  said, “It would be a dampener to an otherwise flourishing relationship between India and the UK”.

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