UK Needs Change in Visa Policy, London Mayor Says in Mumbai

The British government made a "big mistake" in changing its visa policy, Sadiq Khan said during his India visit.


London Mayor Sadiq Khan is pitching for a change in the stringent visa norms with the British government, he said during his ongoing official tour to India. The tour, which includes Mumbai, Delhi and Amritsar, aims to deepen trade ties between the two countries.

“I am a big critic of the British government over the change in the visa policy,” Khan said during an interaction with reporters in Mumbai on Dec. 3. “I think they have made a big mistake, as on one hand the British government is asking Indian businesses to trade there and on the other hand they have made it more hard (to enter the country).”

The British government changed its visa policy for non-European Union nationals to curb immigration. The policy was changed by the Theresa May government and came into effect in November.

“I want to assure you that I am lobbying with my government to change its immigration stance, because I want talented Indians to come to London and not go to Canada, Australia or the US. London is open to people, talent and partnership,” the London mayor said, PTI reported.

The changed visa policy compelled India to notify the British government about its concerns with the stringent visa norms and the increase in the threshold limit of annual pay of working professionals to get the travel documents last month.

According to Khan, a change in the current position of United Kingdom on immigration will benefit London. “One of the reasons why London is the greatest city in the world is its ability to catch talent. (A total of) 40 per cent of Londoners are from outside the UK. It’s in the interest of London to change its stance on immigration and I’m optimistic that it will change in near future,” he said.

Khan also spoke of the need for Britain to forge stronger ties with India, especially Mumbai — something he hopes to achieve with a meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Dec. 4, which is likely to delve into joint ventures on issues like ecology and climate change.

The change in visa policy would also benefit students, Khan said. “There are more international students in London than any other city in the world. Four of the world’s top 30 universities are in London. Due to the change in the visa policy, some Indian students chose to go to Canada or Australia,” he pointed out. “However, I want to tell Indian students that our universities are brilliant. When you come to London, apart from fantastic quality of education you get, you also get the experience and the contacts you make. This will stand you in good head when you return to (your) country as executive, investor, teacher or entrepreneur.”

After his trip to India, Khan will visit Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore in Pakistan. “I’m proud to be the first British politician in a long time to be visiting both India and Pakistan on the same trip. As someone whose grandparents and parents were born in India, and whose parents moved to London from Pakistan, I feel very close ties to both countries,” he said, the Hindu reported. “The longstanding relationship between Britain and the subcontinent is etched into the landscape of modern London,” he added.

Khan was all praise about Bollywood and said that the fact that the Hindi film industry creates so many movies in a year is admirable and worth learning. “One thing that we are doing in Mumbai is learning how you manage to make so many films in Bollywood,” he said. “What is it that you are doing? Indian films’ post-production work is excellent. Hollywood filmmakers come here to do their post-production work, he added, talking about the possibility of the United Kingdom and India making films together.

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