17 April 2012

India threatens to relocate firms over UK visa changes

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India's commerce and industry minister, Anand Sharma , has warned Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne that Indian firms will consider relocating if tough the UK visa rules announced recently were implemented.

UK visa

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma says Indian firms could relocate from the UK over visa difficulties.

Speaking during a meeting of the India-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO), Mr Sharma said the change in UK visa rules, which would classify employees entering the country through the intra company transfer route as prospective immigrants, has already adversely affected India's IT firms.

"[Mr Sharma] specifically referred to the UK Border Agency [UKBA] treating intra-company transfers of IT experts, professionals and highly skilled workers as prospective immigrants which has badly affected the performance of Indian companies operating in the UK," an official statement for Mr Shana read.

Mr Sharma informed Mr Cable and Mr Osborne that if the trend continues, Britain could face losing valuable IT business.

"Sharma also expressed concern that this move may force Indian companies, especially IT companies, to relocate to other European capital".

Mr Osborne assured Mr Sharma that there would be no change in the intra company transfer policy for the next two years.

However, Mr Sharma also raised concerns surrounding UK immigration procedure when it came to securing temporary visas for employees attending business meetings.

"He highlighted the concerns of Indian companies who want to visit the UK for business meetings and also the long delay in obtaining visas by Indian nationals," said the statement.

According to Mr Sharma, Indian experts visiting the UK always left within the terms of their visa, either after their contract expired or after they had attended a meeting, and therefore could not be treated as economic migrants.

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