India-UK: Why did PM Modi refuse to sign MoU on illegal Indians?

In the wake of UK’s denial to offer easier access to visas for Indians, PM Modi recently refused to sign a MoU, pertaining to the return of thousands of immigrants. According to a report, Home minister Kiren Rijiju had inked the MoU in January, but the same wasn’t signed in April by PM Modi. The Indian high commission in London told that India “did not see any progress on the British side of the agreement”.

In November 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May had discussed the bilateral agreement with PM Modi. She had told that the UK is considering more improvements to its visa offer if, simultaneously, we can increase the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain in the United Kingdom.

Recently, the home office spokesperson laid emphasis on the benefit of the MoU. According to the home office spokesperson, the MoU dated 11 January which was inked by Indian minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju and the minister of immigration Caroline Nokes can “facilitate a fast-paced and more efficient process for documenting and returning Indian nationals who are in the UK illegally.”

When May came to India she said progress on returns would thereby facilitate progress on UK visas for Indians, the official said. We are seeing the denial of spousal visas and canceling visas on small pretexts,” a senior Indian high commission official told the media. She cited this as a hostile environment. She laid special focus on easing the short-term visas such as for Indians students and those coming to work for companies, the official noted.

On the two-year multiple-entry visit visa which Britain offers Chinese nationals, the official said that they want a better visa system. He asked: “If they are offering it to the Chinese, why not to Indians?” The official said that the free access to visas will act as a key bargaining chip and UK negotiates a free trade agreement with India after Brexit. Another major reason for not signing the pact was that the unrealistic timelines for validating identity, included in the MoU,” the official added.

As per the timelines mentioned on the MoU, the Indian authorities have a 70-day window to verify a suspected illegal Indian in the UK without ID. Moreover, to validate the identity of someone with ID, there will be a 15-day window.



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