New UK visa rules ‘highly discriminatory’: CII
New Delhi: Terming the proposed new UK visa rules as "highly discriminatory and very unfortunate", industry body CII Monday said these would lead to negative impact on business and tourism inflow from India to that country.
"CII strongly feels that such blanket rules for visas will negatively affect not only businesses, especially small businesses, it will also further bring down the number of students going to the United Kingdom (UK) for higher studies and affect the tourism inflow from India to UK," it said.
Besides, the new rules would also not help the cause of early conclusion of EU-India FTA (Free Trade Agreement), for which both the parties are committed, the chamber observed.
Visitors from India, Pakistan, Nigeria and other Asian and African countries deemed "high-risk" will be forced to pay a hefty cash bond before they can enter the UK.
According to a 'Sunday Times' report, tourists aged 18 and over would be forced to hand over 3,000 pounds (Rs 2.7 lakh) for a six-month visit visa, which they will forfeit if they overstay in Britain.
"The suggested changes are not only discriminatory they are also against the 'special relationship' publicised by the UK government. We share UK's concern on illegal immigration but surely there are other more effective and non-discriminatory ways to put a check on it," CII said.
The British government is planning to pilot a scheme from November targeted at visitors from at least six countries, also including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana.
Last year, 2,96,000 people granted six-month visas were from India, 101,000 from Nigeria, 53,000 from Pakistan and 14,000 each were from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Several hundred visitors will be selected from each country for the trial scheme.
But ministers plan to extend it to all visa types, including work and student visas, and to all countries, although it will not cover every one of the 2.2 million people granted visas each year.
A similar scheme has already been rejected in Canada amid claims that it was unlawful because it discriminated against categories of immigrants.