New British visa policy to be discussed next month: India

New Delhi, June 28: India said Friday that the new British visa rules, that Indian industry bodies have termed as "discriminatory", could be discussed next month at a bilateral forum.

The controversial British proposal to collect 3,000 pounds (Rs.2.8 lakh) from Indian citizens for a six-month visa from November would come up for discussions during the India-Britain consular forum meeting in the latter half of July, said external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin here.

He said India had raised the issue both at the political and diplomatic level with the British government.

Britain has communicated to India that it is "well aware of concerns raised in India" and said that "this is a work in progress and they would discuss the issue with us", said Akbaruddin.

Britain has told India that it is "mulling over" the proposal.

Earlier this week, the Indian High Commission in London was asked to seek official information on the British visa policy.

Under the new visa proposals, visitors from India, Pakistan, Nigeria and other Asian and African countries deemed "high-risk" will be forced to pay a hefty cash bond of 3,000 pounds before they can enter Britain.

According to a Sunday Times report, the British government is planning to launch a scheme from November targeted at visitors from six countries, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana.

Tourists aged 18 and over would be forced to hand over 3,000 pounds for a six-month visit visa, which they would forfeit if they overstay in Britain.

The proposal has been criticized in India, including by business houses, who said the move would dampen the flourishing relationship between India and Britain.


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