India on Monday asked the United Kingdom to protect the rights of its students in the country and ensure that they do not face any visa-related difficulties. Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla conveyed this to Glyn Williams, Director General for Borders, Immigration, Citizenship and International Strategy at the United Kingdom Home Office, during delegation-level talks between the two countries.
"We informed them of instances where Indian students faced visa-related issues in Britain," a Home Ministry official told NDTV.
According to sources, both sides discussed several issues of mutual concern related to immigration and citizenship. Kieran Drake -- Minister Counsellor, Political and Press at the British High Commission in New Delhi -- termed the talks as "productive".
Last year, India was excluded from a list of nations entitled to Tier 4 overseas student visa relaxations unveiled by the UK Home Office. Indian student groups in Britain and top-level diplomats objected to the move, with some even saying that excluding the world's largest democracy from a list that otherwise contains many non-democratic countries amounted to "insulting" India.
The UK government, in its response, linked the move to New Delhi's refusal to sign a memorandum of understanding on taking back illegal migrants.
Last year, the union cabinet had approved a pact on deportation of illegal Indian immigrants from UK to India and vice-versa. However, at the eleventh hour, India pulled out of the hour without giving any reason for its decision.
According to reports at the time, New Delhi was concerned that a large number of Indian citizens would be deported by Britain without taking "humanitarian considerations" into account if such a pact were to be signed. It was also claimed that India was wary of certain "hazardous" migrants such as Sikh and Kashmiri separatists being returned to the country.