To Link Illegal Immigration and Students is Offensive: London Mayor on UK Visa Policy

To link illegal immigration and students is deeply offensive and also muddies the waters, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said.


The United Kingdom government’s decision to exclude India from the new list of countries offered relaxed visa norms for students is a “wasted opportunity,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said, PTI reported. Khan also said that evidence does not support the UK government’s claim linking the denial of easier visa rules to Indian students with the presence of illegal Indian immigrants in the country.

“To link the two, illegal immigration and students is deeply offensive and also muddies the waters. This hostile environment (to immigration) is still here and we need real concrete evidence that it will change,” Khan said on the sidelines of the UK-India Awards in London on June 22, the news agency reported.

“There isn’t a problem about students overstaying… All the evidence shows that Indians who study here leave with a very positive attitude,” he added, according to the report. When these students become top company officials or entrepreneurs, they invest in the United Kingdom, he added.

Khan said immigration issues continue to be a blind spot for the Theresa May-led government, which does not see the benefits that immigrants bring to the country. The current government is being “complacent” about Indian investment, and thinks that it would always be here, Khan pointed out.

“My message to the government is no; these talented people can go elsewhere,” he said, adding, “We must realize Indians are equal partners, we mustn’t talk down to them. It’s a competition to attract talented Indians and we have got to be competing.”

The United Kingdom’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said earlier this week that India was not offered relaxed visa norms for students because of the Indian government’s refusal to sign a deal on the return of illegal immigrants.

“There is always a demand for easier norms, but we cannot look at that without addressing the issue of overstayers,” Fox said on June 18 on the sidelines of the launch of the UK-India Week, the Times of India reported at the time.

The United Kingdom had last week relaxed Tier 4 visa norms for overseas students of 25 countries, including China, Bahrain and Serbia, but kept India out of the list. Students belonging to the countries added to the list, considered low risk places, would have to face less checks on educational, financial and English language skill requirements to pursue higher education in the country.

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