British Minister moots UK visa centre in Punjab

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Chandigarh, Feb 5 (UNI) In order to check the growing trend of illegal immigration, the United Kingdom Minister of State, Home Office Liam Byrne today offered to open visa centre in Punjab to facilitate Punjabis to immigrate to U K legally.

Mr Byrne made this offer here at Punjab Bhawan during a meeting at a lunch hosted by the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in honour of visiting delegation led by Mr Byrne.

The visiting U.K. Minister said that his Government would initially open a visa centre either at Chandigarh or Jalandhar which would later be converted into a full-fledged Consulate.

He also evinced keen interest to extend cooperation to the Punjab government in upgrading technical skills and knowledge through exchange programmes for Experts and Teachers' in the sphere of primary and secondary education with a special focus on the student exchange programme to acquaint the students of India and U.K with one another's cultural and social background.

Appreciating the initiative of Mr Byrne for opening a visa centre in Punjab, Mr Badal said that it would prove to be a milestone in further improving the bilateral ties between the economies of U.K.

and India besides strengthening the bonding between the Punjabis here and their brethren settled in U.K.

He said that Punjabis had a strong presence in U.K besides Canada, U.S.A and Italy and it was satisfying to observe that Punjabis had always contributed immensely towards the economic prosperity of the land of their adoption.

Mr. Badal also mentioned that Canadian and Italian governments had already setup a Consulate and a Visa centre at Chandigarh.

The Chief Minister sought Mr Byrne's cooperation for improving the teaching skills of English teachers in the government schools through imparting special training from the U.K. based teachers.

He pointed out that the state school education department had already tied up with the British Council to start short-term training courses for our English teachers during vacations.

The Chief Minister solicited Mr Byrne's cooperation for the skill development programme in the state besides the absorption of quality manpower from Punjab in the industry of U.K.

Mr. Byrne assured the Chief Minister that U.K. was looking forward for collaborating with leading Universities and educational institutions from Punjab with some of its reputed institutions in U.K. He also urged Mr. Badal to send a delegation of educational experts and academicians to explore the ways and means in this regard.

Taking part in the deliberations, Chief Secretary, Punjab Mr.

R.I. Singh asked Mr. Byrne to facilitate the Punjabi youth to be suitably employed in the ventures of IT, Industry and Agro processing Units in U.K because Punjabis were gifted with a special sense of entrepreneurship, drive and adaptability.

Prominent amongst others who accompanied the visiting U.K.

Minister included Mr Thomas Greig, Private Secretary to Mr. Byrne, Mr. Glyn Williams, Director U.K Visa, Mrs. Judith MaGreger, Director Immigration and Ms. Louisa Frost, Border Immigration Agency.

UNI JN JS1632

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