New Delhi: While offering more flexibility with visas for Indians, UK premier Theresa May today made it clear that will depend on the "speed and volume of the return of Indians with no right to remain in the UK."
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In her joint press interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ms May announced that the two countries had set up a strategic group which would work on visas.
The UK premier is in India on a two-day visit to lay the groundwork for a potential post-Brexit deal with India, the world's fastest growing major economy.
Although Britain cannot sign any bilateral trade deals until it has left the European Union - most likely in 2019 - her visit is seen as signaling a desire to get the ball rolling as early as possible.
In her first bilateral trip outside Europe since taking office in July, Ms May arrived yesterday in Delhi with a delegation of about 40 business leaders. She will travel tomorrow to the tech hub of Bengaluru.
But much of the trade negotiations rest on the issue of visas for skilled workers and students from India.
There is particular unhappiness in Delhi over visa restrictions on students wanting to stay on in Britain after completing university courses which have led to a 50 percent drop in Indians enrolling. Last week, new and tighter visa rules announced by the UK will curtail the number of eligible Indians, especially techies, with the base salary for those allowed to work in Britain being raised substantially.
Anger at levels of immigration from both inside and outside Europe were seen as a crucial factor in the outcome of the June referendum when British voters opted to pull out of the EU.
Britain has said it will offer new services to improve business travel for Indian visitors, including faster clearance through UK border controls, but an aide to Ms May said this was about speeding up the process rather than boosting numbers.