UK visa bond: No final decision taken yet, says Britain
New Delhi: The UK on Wednesday said no final decision has been taken on the new cash bond of Rs 2.75 lakh for obtaining British visa, which they intend to run as a pilot scheme, a day after India voiced its strong protests over the proposed move.
Noting that UK wants the "brightest and the best" to help create the jobs and growth, Marcus Winsley, director of press and communications in the British High Commission here, said, the government remains committed to tackling immigration abuse and was looking at a range of options.
"One of those options is a financial bond. The government intends to run a pilot scheme for such bonds, tightly targeted at a small number of visa applicants assessed to pose a high risk of overstaying.
"But no decisions have been taken on the detail of how such a pilot scheme would work in practice. Any such scheme will be designed in a way that does not cut across the UK's wish to be open for business, students and tourists," he said.
He also said, "senior UK and Indian officials are scheduled to meet in London in late-July for a comprehensive dialogue on visa related issues. Financial bonds are expected to be on the agenda."
According to a 'Sunday Times' report earlier this week, the British government is planning to pilot a scheme from November targeted at visitors from at least six countries, including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana.
Tourists aged 18 and over would be forced to hand over 3,000 pounds for a six-month visit visa, which they will forfeit if they overstay in Britain, according to the report.
Reiterating the promise made by British Prime Minister David Cameron during his last visit to India in February on relaxed visa regime, Winsley said, "The British Prime Minister's message is loud and clear. The UK wants the brightest and the best to help create the jobs and growth that will enable Britain to compete in the global race.
"So, for example, if you are an overseas businessperson seeking to invest and trade with world class businesses, one of the thousands of legitimate students keen to study at our first-class universities or a tourist visiting our world class attractions, be in no doubt: Britain is open for business."
Expressing serious concerns over the Britain's decision to run such a pilot scheme, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma had strongly raised the issue in his meetings in London with Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government policy in Cabinet office and Gregory Barker, Minister in charge for business engagement with India.