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UK, India to sign MoU on return of illegal migrants

UK Home Office officials believe Indians are among the top nationalities living illegally in the UK, estimated at more than 100,000.

world Updated: Jan 10, 2018 20:20 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
India-UK relations,minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju,illegal migrants in UK
File photo of Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May shaking hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the India-UK Tech Summit in New Delhi on November 7, 2016. (Reuters)

A key issue in relations between India and the United Kingdom will be addressed on Thursday with the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the speedy return of illegal migrants, which may lead to improvement in the current British visa offer.

The MoU is to be signed by minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju, who is currently in London, following months ofdeliberations between British and Indian officials in New Delhi and London, including by former home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi during his July 2017 visit here.

It is likely to be signed on the British side by newly appointed minister for immigration Caroline Nokes. Home Office officials believe Indians are among the top nationalities living illegally in the UK, estimated at more than 100,000.

The issue was flagged by Prime Minister Theresa May during her 2016 visit to New Delhi. “(The) UK will consider further improvements to our visa offer if at the same time we can step up the speed and volume of returns ofIndianswith no right to remain in the UK,” she had said at the time.

The sticking point between the two sides has been confirming the identity of suspectedillegal migrants, who may destroy passports and other papers to make it difficult for authorities to deport them. New Delhi has been willing to accept those whose Indian identity has been confirmed.

The investigation to confirm identity involves police in India, which can take weeks, if not months. There havealso been instances when Pakistaniand Bangladeshi citizens were sought to be sent to India, which wasavertedafter investigations established they were notIndians.

Since biometric and other information is sought while seeking a British visa, the British side wants India to accept the details and issue travel documents to deport overstayers. New Delhi believes the identity can be confirmed only through an investigation by Indian authorities.

The Indian high commission here issues travel documents (Emergency Certificates)to those whose Indian identity is confirmed so that they canreturn. In 2016, a total of 582 Emergency Certificates were issued, but the Home Office believes there is much scope for speeding up the process.

May said in an interview before the 2017 election: “The Home Office is discussing various ways in which that process (of returns) can be improved.

“It is something I have said internationally, that I think where there are people who are in a countryillegally, they should be returned, but it is a question of getting a smoother process so that people aren’t spending quite so long waiting to be returned.”

First Published: Jan 10, 2018 20:20 IST