Modi seeks visa norms relaxation for students to UK

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked Britain to relax student visa rules saying greater mobility of young people must be encouraged, even as Prime Minister Theresa May has said her country has a “good system” for applications.

Addressing India-UK Tech Summit with May in attendance, Modi said education is vital for Indian students and will define the country’s engagement in a shared future.

“We must therefore encourage greater mobility and participation of young people in education and research opportunities,” he said.

May, who arrived here yesterday to pave way for UK’s first post-Brexit trade deal, however has said the UK has a “good system” for applications.

UK was already able to attract “the brightest and the best” from outside the EU, she was quoted by BBC as saying.

“Nine out of 10 visa applications from India are already accepted.”

Bloomberg quoted her as telling reporters on flight to New Delhi that Britain has “a visa system for countries outside the European Union which ensures that the brightest and the best are able to come to the United Kingdom.”

“The figures show that we issued more work visas to India than I think the US, Australia, Canada and China put together,” she was quoted as saying.

UK’s new policy requires students to return home after their courses end, a move that has led to fall in Indian students enrolling in British universities by 50 per cent.

The number of study visas issued to Indian nationals fell from 68,238 in 2010 to 11,864 this year, official UK figures show.

At the Summit, May however announced easier visa regime for the businessmen coming to UK.

“So we will offer, for the first time to any country that needs visas to enter Britain, what we called ‘Registered Traveller Scheme’.

“That means the Indian nationals who frequently come to the UK and to fuel growth in both our countries, the entry process will become significantly easier,” she said.

High net worth individuals and their families will be offered to the Great Club – a bespoke visa and immigration service – to make visa applications smoother.

Also, Indians on work visas would be able to join the Registered Travellers Scheme which will mean they can get through UK border controls more quickly.

“We want to attract more Indian businesses to the UK, which is why it’s right to offer Indian business executives a world-class visa service tailored to their needs,” Bloomberg quoted May as saying in a statement to journalists traveling with her.