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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Raise UK visa issue with Charles: Assocham to govt

Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 20, 2013
First Published: 13:27 IST(20/10/2013) | Last Updated: 13:45 IST(20/10/2013)

Industry body Assocham has said it wants the controversial 3,000 pounds visa bond scheme for Indians visiting the UK to be abandoned and that the government should raise the issue with Prince Charles during his visit to India next month.

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Emphasising that the visa bond policy for Indians must be discarded, the chamber said India must demand treatment at par with China and also make it clear to the UK that the move would be challenged in the WTO as it impairs fair international trade.

"We want the controversial visa bond policy, by which visitors to the UK from six Commonwealth countries including India will be required to furnish a bond for 3,000 pounds for a six-month visa, to be abandoned," Assocham said.

Earlier this week, UK Chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne unveiled a liberal visa policy for the Chinese visiting Britain in a bid to woo Chinese investment.

Pointing out that there was no merit in the argument that visa bond policy would be implemented on pilot for so-called 'high-risk visitors,' Assocham said: "It is bound to be misused, and create confusion".

"In fact, India should make it clear to British authorities that the move would even be challenged in the World Trade Organisation as it impairs fair international trade," it added.

Osborne announced relaxed visa rules for visitors from China during his ongoing trade mission to the country.

"As an economy, we are as important as China, both in terms of trade and investment as also exchange of tourists. Students from India and China not only fund their education abroad but also pump in hard currency into the British universities which are starved of funds," Assocham said.

Under the plan, Chinese nationals visiting the European Union will not need to submit separate UK visa applications if they book with selected travel agents.

"As its economic clout increases, India must seek a treatment from the UK which is no less different and inferior to the one meted out to China," the chamber said.

At present, Chinese visitors can apply for a single visa to visit much of Europe but a separate visa is required to travel to the UK. A mobile visa scheme has been made operational for the Chinese tourists.

"Several Indian companies, notably the Tatas have invested billions of dollars in Britain creating and saving jobs in that country," the chamber pointed out.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker-Bowles will make a nine-day visit to India next month on their way to Sri Lanka for the commonwealth heads of government meeting.

This will be the royal couple's third official visit to India together. The trip, from November 6 to 14, will take them to Dehradun, New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Kochi.


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