'Visa bond proposal not considered by British govt'

Last Updated: Tue, Jun 25, 2013 18:17 hrs

London: India today said it has been conveyed by the UK that the proposal to collect hefty visa cash bonds from Indians has not been considered by the British government.

This was conveyed to Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma by Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills during a meeting in London.

According to an official release in New Delhi, "Cable informed the Indian minister that he had discussed the issue with the British Home Secretary who had assured that there was proposal mooted for a pilot which has not been considered by the British government".

This came after Sharma expressed serious concerns during his meetings with Cable as well as Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government policy in Cabinet office over the news reports referring to a proposal to categorise India as high risk country entailing cash bonds from visa applicants.

Sharma also suggested that given the strategic IndiaUK partnership a formal clarification to this effect would be in order to dispel any apprehension and avoid confusion.

According to a 'Sunday Times' report, 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.

Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission has been asked to seek more official details on the proposed scheme to assess its implications.

"The ministry has asked our mission in London to find out official details on reports about a possible new scheme that the UK is trying to introduce that may have implications on Indians visiting that country," spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said here.

Expressing concerns over the UK's proposal, industry body Ficci in a statement said "it would be a dampener to an otherwise flourishing relationship between India and the UK".

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