The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) believes links between the two nations have become even more entrenched since the UK introduced a new points-based immigration system because the system has allowed more Indians to work in Britain.
It says labour mobility between the nations remains ‘of critical importance’.
Cultural, historical, and business links between the UK and India have always been strong. The connections between the two nations have been described as a living bridge and are the main reason why people from Indian origin are the largest non-white ethnic group in the UK, making up 3.1% of the British population according to data from the country’s 2021 census.
People from Indian origin hold positions in many of the UK’s top institutions and the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is the son of Indian origin migrants.
Last year Indian nationals were granted more UK skilled Worker visas than any other nationality. They received 39% of the total work permits, a jump of 90% compared to pre-pandemic levels. Indians also gained more British citizenship than any other non-European nation.
UKIBC Managing Director, Kevin McCole, says the living bridge is a ‘vital pillar of the UK-India bilateral relationship which contributes much to both our countries’ economies and to wider society’.
“There has been significant growth in the number of Indians coming to the UK in recent years thanks to positive developments that have extended and improved mobility opportunities and flexibility, such as the new points-based immigration system and extension of the post-study work visa for students and graduates,” he said. “As a result, the UK issues more work, student, and tourist visas to Indians than to any other nationality. As the trade and investment relationship continues to grow, labour mobility remains of critical importance – having the people with the right skills in the right place at the right time is really important to both UK and Indian businesses. We therefore hope for a mutually beneficial outcome on labour mobility in the ongoing FTA negotiations.”
His comments come after Britain stepped up political and business engagement with India in recent months. In March this year British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly visited New Delhi to launch a new exchange scheme for young British and Indian professionals to live and work in the two countries.
UK visa and immigration expert, Yash Dubal, director of A Y & J Solicitors, predicts that the number of Indian professionals moving to the UK to live and work will continue to rise.
He said: “These numbers are expected to continue rising for two reasons. Firstly, it is a stated UK and Indian government policy to build more links and double trade by 2030. The expected Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the nations will help achieve this aim and should make it easier for Indian nationals to work in the UK. The new youth mobility scheme which opens the door to 3000 extra young professionals from India was introduced this year as part of this aim. Secondly, demographics in India, which is now the world’s most populous nation, mean that the nation’s burgeoning educated younger population are eager to take new opportunities abroad, and the UK is a favoured destination.”
Much of the UK immigration infrastructure is focussed on skilled workers, who make up most work permit holders granted permission to work in the UK. There are several other visa routes available to entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, and startups.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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