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The telegraph

Visa deal that opens door for Indian students will allow UK to return illegal migrants

Britain must allow thousands more Indian students to enroll in British universities in exchange for India’s agreeing to take back migrants living illegally in the country, The Telegraph has learned. London and New Delhi are set to sign a “Migration and Mobility Partnership,” which is part of a broader relationship-building drive to secure a mini-trade deal later this year. Government insiders say talks are still ongoing and final details have yet to be worked out, but the deal represents a significant milestone on two key sticking points that have hampered bilateral ties in recent years. It is hoped that the deal can be reached as early as this week, when Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s Foreign Minister, will be in London for multilateral talks with the G7, hosted by Dominic Raab. India has waged a long campaign to push Britain to liberalize visas, especially for students and professionals, and also hopes to establish closer investment ties with the UK. The UK, in turn, is fighting to ensure better access for UK service providers to India, especially in the legal sector, and a 150 percent tariff reduction on Scotch whiskey. In 2018, the two countries almost signed a pact on the return of illegal immigrants from Britain to India, but the talks collapsed. India had raised concerns about a deluge of returned nationals, as Britain estimated as many as 100,000 Indian migrants were living illegally in the UK. Narenda Modi’s administration was also reportedly alarmed at the prospect of the return of Sikh and Kashmiri separatists and claimed they posed a security risk. Johnson’s liberal stance on international students Boris Johnson takes a significantly more liberal stance on international students than his predecessor Theresa May, who insisted on including them in the UK’s net migration target, which cut their numbers . Under his administration, only 20,000 of the 750,000 Indian students studying abroad were enrolled in Britain – less than in New Zealand. A few months after arriving at No.10, Mr Johnson reinstated a two-year post-study work visa for international students, a move that led to a 300% increase in student visa applications from from India within six months. Last year, the government introduced a new ‘student’ route into the visa system as part of its move to a points-based post-Brexit immigration system, which ministers say has ‘streamlined’ the application process. It removed some requirements for proof of financial resources, made postgraduate study easier, and introduced new ways to meet the criteria of the English language. The ministers said they hoped to attract more students from India and Nigeria. This week, Mr. Raab, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, welcomes the G7 Foreign Affairs and Development Ministers for the first face-to-face meeting in more than two years. He also invited Mr. Jaishankar and his counterparts from Australia, South Korea and South Africa, as well as the President of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), to join to the G7 talks as guests. This paves the way for some of those nations to join a broader alliance of democracies, something Boris Johnson could announce at the G7 summit in Cornwall next month. Last December, Mr. Raab met Mr. Jaishankar in New Delhi to discuss further cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, health, research and innovation, and climate change. The UK and India are also seeking to strengthen their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, as a counterweight to China’s growing alliance with Pakistan. The Indian Navy will lead engagements with the UK Carrier Strike Group which set sail on Sunday for its first operational deployment, which will take it to the Mediterranean and then to the Indo-Pacific. The Telegraph has contacted the Home Office for comment.

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