As the UK seeks closer relations with India, ministers will relax UK immigration regulations to allow thousands of Indians to work and live in Britain. This is as a way to combat China’s influence.

  • New rules allow Indians to live and work freely in the UK.
  • UK-India trade negotiations could be dominated by immigration curbs in 2022. 
  • Rumours abound that the Cabinet has split on India’s possibility to relax border control 

Ministers are plotting to ease immigration restrictions that could help thousands of Indian citizens both live and work in the UK more easily in 2022.

According to some, the move could become a major point in trade talks between the countries that will be held later this month in Delhi.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, international trade secretary, is set to make the offer to Indian officials as part of the Government’s plan to limit China’s influence in the region. 

A senior government official explained to me that ministers accepted that a generous visa offer was the best counterbalance for any trade negotiations.  

According to the Times, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is believed to have backed Ms Trevelyan, however, she will be under pressure from Priti Patel, Home Secretary, who doesn’t support the move. 

As part of trade talks between the UK and India immigration restrictions could be eased that would see thousands more Indian citizens more easily live and work in Britain. Pictured: Residents pictured in Katra, India

In the context of trade negotiations between India and Britain, immigration restrictions may be relaxed that could allow thousands more Indian citizens to live and work here. Pictured: Indian residents in Katra.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (above) is said to back the plans that would see immigration curbs on Indians relaxed

Liz Truss, foreign secretary (above), supports plans to relax Indian immigration controls

The plans include a similar deal for Indian nationals to Australians. This would allow young workers to work and live in Britain for up three years.

Another option is to reduce visa fees for Indian students and allow them temporary residence in the country once they graduate. 

Work and tourism visas – which at present can cost up to £1,400 – could also be cheapened in a move to sweeten the Delhi representatives. 

A free trade agreement between both India and the UK would solidify a closer economic relationship between the pair, which began last May when a £1billion trade and investment deal was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

No 10 had said UK businesses had secured export deals worth more than £446million and was expected to create more than 400 jobs. 

At the time, Mr Johnson said: ‘Each and every one of the more than 6,500 jobs announced today will help families and communities build back from coronavirus and boost the British and Indian economies.’

As an emerging market and one of the world’s most populous nations, India’s GDP (gross domestic product) stands at around £2 trillion despite not having a bilateral trade deal with the US or the EU.

Britain hopes its strong ties to India will allow it to outperform the rest and make a historic trade agreement. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to move ‘further’ and go “faster” to help Britain succeed in the post-Brexit world.

The plan is likely to face pressure from Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured) who is said to not support the move

The plan is likely to face pressure from Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured) who is said to not support the move

British business would benefit greatly from any agreement reached with Delhi, according to ministers. India is expected to become the third largest economy in the world by 2050. 

India, an essentially protectionist nation, imposes substantial tariffs upon imports. However, the British government has been discussing loosening restrictions on British products. This includes whisky. Whisky can be subject to up to 150 per percent import duty.

The UK’s trade department is believed to see a stronger free-trade agreement with India that would allow access to India’s rapidly growing technology sector, as the ultimate goal.  

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department for International Trade stated that ‘a free-trade agreement was in place. [with India]UK companies will have huge potential.