Newly released figures revealing an increase in the number of visas handed out to Indian students, workers and tourists have been welcomed by the British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG.
According to the latest UK Home Office data, more than 19,500 Indian nationals were granted a Tier 4 student visa last year, up 35 per cent on the previous 12 months and the highest annual total since 2011.
More than 55,000 skilled work visas were granted to Indian nationals over the same period last year, up 6 per cent on 2017. According to the Home Office, this figure accounted for more than half of all skilled work visas granted globally, with Indian workers receiving more UK visas in this category than the rest of the world combined.
Sir Dominic said the data showed the UK was open to skilled labour and Indian business.
“This is fantastic news for the UK-India relationship and shows that the UK continues to be a welcoming place for Indians to work, study and vacation,” he said.
“Each visa helps strengthen the living bridge between our two countries bringing us closer together and making both our countries stronger. I look forward to working with the Government of India to see this impressive record continue.”
While the number of visas being granted to Indian nationals has been growing, the UK government’s decision to double the health surcharge imposed on professionals from outside European Union who come to live and work in Britain has caused resentment.
The Immigration Health Surcharge allows anyone in the UK on a work, study or family visa for longer than six months to access NHS services in the same way as UK citizens. Last December, the charge doubled to £400 per year (£300 for students), a move labelled by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) as an “unfair and highly discriminatory health surcharge for NHS-employed professionals”.
In a letter sent to home secretary Sajid Javid last month, BAPIO called for the charge to be reversed as the UK risked losing out on quality healthcare professionals from outside of the EU.