No policy yet announced on visas: British HC

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New Delhi, Dec 20 (UNI) The British High Commission here today denied reports that the UK had announced new restrictions on visas to non-EU travellers but said consultation was on.

A British High Commission spokesperson said no such policy had yet been announced. The spokesperson, however, admitted that ''consultation process'' was on.

''...a consultation process is on ; no policy has yet been announced,'' the spokesperson added.

Reports said Britain is planning tougher visa controls including reducing the time limit for non-EU visitors from six to three months.

The government is also considering restricting people's access to visas, with a range of new measures including having UK families pay 1,000 pounds to sponsor visiting relatives.

The proposals, which also include considering two new visas--for ''business and specialist'' visits and for events like Olympic games, were unveiled by Immigration Minister Liam Byrne.

Britain has already introduced bio-metric visa system in India involving compulsory finger-printing for visa seekers who would also have to get themselves digitally photographed.

The move by the British government has come in for sharp criticism, specially in India and among the Asian community in Britain, although the British government says the move was planned to check illegal immigration.

The spokesperson said a global immigration consultation exercise was launched in London but no decisions had been taken.

''To reiterate, contrary to recent speculation, no decisions have yet been taken on whether or not to introduce a bond or to shorten the length of tourist visas,'' the spokesperson added.

''We are keen to hear the views of people over the next 12 weeks, which we will use to help us formulate our immigration policies for the years ahead. This consultation relates to short-term visits for students, tourists, sponsored family visitors and business travellers, and is part of wider changes to our immigration system,'' the spokesperson added.

The High Commission said Britain wanted to continue to offer a warm welcome to genuine travellers while minimising the risk of abuse of the system.

High Commission officials said more than 100 cases of fraud are detected each month across the world among applications seeking UK visas.

More than 420,000 Indians applied for UK visas this year.

UNI

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