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UK’s May rejects calls to relax visas for Indian students

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During a visit to India this week, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has rebuffed calls for a more lenient visa system for Indians, as she believes the current system is doing well.

“The UK will consider further improvements to our visa offer if, at the same time, we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain,” she told reporters after attending the India-UK tech summit in Delhi.

“The figures show that we issue more work visas to India than I think U.S., Australia, and China put together. Nine out of 10 visa applications from India are already accepted. We have, I believe, a good system,” added May.

May’s Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, however, hinted that trade deals between the two countries could be influenced by whether or not more Indian students are granted visas to study at the UK’s higher education institutions.

There have been rising concerns among the public over falling numbers of Indian students heading to the UK due to its ongoing crackdown on immigration and increasingly stringent visa policies.

“Education is vital for our students and will define our engagement in a shared future. We must therefore encourage greater mobility and participation of young people in education and research opportunities,” said Modi while addressing the audience at the same summit, reported the Guardian.

Despite standing firm on her stance regarding the existing visa system, May announced that India will be the first country to join the UK’s registered traveller scheme, aimed at easing the process for visitors entering the country.

“That means for Indian nationals who frequently come to the UK – and who fuel growth in both our countries – the entry process will become significantly easier, with fewer forms to fill out, access to EU/EEA passport control, and swifter passage through our airports,” she said, as quoted by The PIE News.

During May’s visit, it was also announced that the UK government would fund an additional 198 scholarships for Indian students to study at participating UK universities under its GREAT Scholarships programme.

Image via the Associated Press

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