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'India upset by UK immigration law'

India is "very concerned" over a new British immigration law that has affected Indian doctors in Britain, said Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2007 13:45 IST

India is "very concerned" over a new British immigration law that has affected job prospects of thousands of Indian doctors in Britain and will take up the issue at the diplomatic level, said Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi Sunday.

"It is quite unfortunate that such a large number of Indian doctors have to come back to India without even completing their courses. We are very much concerned and share the agony they are facing. This has to be taken up at the diplomatic level. I may soon meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to discuss this issue," Ravi told IANS on phone from Kerala.

"Many of these doctors were on scholarship, and the new legislation will be a major problem in their career. I hope the British government will be more considerate on this issue. When I went to London a month ago the matter was brought to my notice. I had discussed it with our high commissioner. But the Indian community was awaiting the court judgement," the minister said.

The new immigration law abolishes permit-free training for overseas doctors, mainly Indians, jeopardising the careers of 15,000 Indian doctors and medical students.

The department of health abolished permit-free training in April 2006 in an attempt to streamline the recruitment process.

Britain's medical community has expressed disappointment at Friday's adverse High Court ruling that refused a judicial review of changes to immigration rules. Indian doctors comprise a sizeable number of Britain's National Health Service and constitute nearly one-third of the total strength of doctors in the country.

The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) plans to file an appeal in the Appeals Court on Monday against the judgement of the high court and seek a stay on the new regulation.

If the BAPIO fails to get a stay order, thousands of doctors of Indian origin who had gone to Britain under the permit-free training rule will have to pack up and leave.