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Impact of Proposed UK Immigration Policy on India-UK Relations

Impact of Government Policy on Immigration, Education & Youth Mobility from India

13th March 2019, High Commission of India, London

The High Commission of India in the UK in partnership with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI UK) and Indian Professionals Forum (IPF) organized an Interactive Session on “Impact of Government Policy on Immigration, Education & Youth Mobility from India” at the India House. The session included a panel discussion reviewing the report and making specific suggestions and recommendation as it affects immigration and attracts key skilled workers from India.

While welcoming the delegates Mr. Manish Singh, Minister (Economic), High Commission of India shared that the large number of Indian Companies that operate in the UK, contribute not just to the GDP but also to the job market. He added that a conducive immigration policy is on the top of the agenda for bilateral discussions between India and UK.

The Rt Hon. the Lord Dholakia in his key note address briefly sketched out what the Bill meant in practice, provided background information on the development of policy and also provided additional information on how the Bill would affect existing legislation in this area.

Lord Dholakia in his address said that the purpose of Immigration act is not in dispute. It is to admit those who are eligible and to exclude or, subject to appropriate humanitarian principles to remove those who are not.

This was followed by a Panel discussion on the nuances of the white paper moderated by Dr. Mohan Kaul, President, IPF. The distinguished Panel included Ms. Punam Burley, Partner and Head of Employment & Immigration, KPMG, Mr. Loknath Mishra, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank UK PLC, Ms. Jurga McCluskey, Partner & Head Immigration, Deloitte LLP, Mr. Philip Bouvrat, Director, JCB and Ms. Pat Saini, Partner & Head of Immigration, Penningtons Manches LLP.

Speaking at the panel Ms. Jurga McCluskey said that the policy needs to be seen in view of the dynamism of businesses. She highlighted that the Government need to review the ‘Cooling off period’ for the ICT visas to help companies to retain employees for longer periods without any gap.

Mr. Loknath Mishra emphasized the need to review the current policies for issue of visas for professionals as the current immigration policy hinders continuity in operations of companies. The Indian Companies in UK cannot retain good quality employees well versed with the local market. He also asked for the government to review the current procedures for the issue of the Entrepreneurship Visas.

Ms. Pat Saini said that the Government needs to work on a more fluid system with the changes in the economy. She added that the Government should focus on a ‘fit-for-purpose’ policy.

Mr. Philip Bouverat said that India is one of the most vital part of JBC’s global strategy and employs more than 5000 people in India. JCB would like to bring their employees from India to be further trained in UK. He urged that the Home office to interact more with the businesses like theirs to make the policy more conducive for movement of skilled people from India to UK similar to procedures used for movement of personnel from China or Brazil.

Ms. Punam Birly suggested that Indian Businesses need to engage more actively with the Government. She highlighted some of the positives of the white paper which would make the policy more conducive for students and professionals.

Mr. Mark Doran, Deputy Director – EU Exit Immigration Strategy while addressing the gathering shared the Government vision on new policy to be announced in 2021. He stressed that for the future growth of the UK economy and businesses post Brexit the immigration policy will play a key role. He added that the new policy will be skilled based and will focus on reducing the time drastically for getting a valid visa .

Dr. Param Shah while giving the concluding remarks thanked the speakers and the panelist for their insights on the immigration white paper and the delegates for their participation. He also gave constructive suggestions that going further FICCI & IPF would be putting together a paper to be submitted to the Home office for their consideration.

The Major takeaways from the event were:

  • Need for continued dialogue between the UK government and Indian Professionals and Businesses including the representatives of UK businesses in India.

  • Given the pace of economic development in India the highly skilled professionals prefer not to move from India given the increased opportunities in India. The UK immigration policy need to take in to account the new economic realities.

  • UK government should make immigration policy attractive for Indian Technology startup companies and Entrepreneurs to match the flow of Indian skills to Silicon Valley. About 20% of startup companies are set up by Indian Technology entrepreneurs.

  • The Indian Businesses in UK and UK Businesses in India should be able to move employees feely between the two countries based on the priorities and requirements of business and skills.

  • The visa procedures and cost of obtaining visa for Indian Nationals should at least be similar to China.

The event was well received by the delegates. It was attended by more than 100 delegates including businesses, policy makers, professionals and media.


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