Immigration News: The UK and India Immigration Pact
You may have read in the news about an immigration deal between the UK and India but what is the deal and how will it affect you? In this article our immigration solicitors take a look at the UK and India immigration pact.
UK Immigration Solicitors
The UK - Indian Immigration Agreement
On the 4 May 2021 the UK government published a policy paper document entitled ‘’Memorandum of understanding on the migration and mobility partnership between India and the United Kingdom’’.
This document is a statement of intent or record of agreement. The deal, referred to as a memorandum of understanding, has been long in the planning and, to some, doesn’t go far enough. To others, there appears to be no rationale for any differential immigration treatment of EU or non-EEA citizens of any nationality given that Brexit was designed to treat all non-UK nationals equally when it came to immigration controls.
What does the UK – India Immigration Agreement say ?
The UK and India immigration agreement has two main components:
- A Young Professionals scheme
- Greater working together and cooperation on the removal of those who don’t have a valid visa or permission to be in the UK.
The Young Professionals Scheme
The aspect of the policy paper document, ‘’Memorandum of understanding on the migration and mobility partnership between India and the United Kingdom’’, that has interested UK immigration solicitors the most is the Young Professionals scheme.
The Young Professionals scheme is of interest because many UK employers are already complaining that the changes introduced in the UK in January 2021 through the points-based immigration system don’t enable them to recruit the workers they need from overseas. That’s because the skilled worker visa sets a minimum salary threshold. Consequently, UK employers say, with the associated immigration and recruitment costs, it isn’t always financially viable to recruit from a non-EEA country or the EU through sponsoring an employee on a skilled worker visa. In addition, with the end of free movement for EU nationals there is now a reduction in the number of available lower skilled workers because of the lack of visa opportunities for lower skilled migrants looking for employment in the UK.
So, does the Young Professionals scheme offer a solution to UK employers? The details of the Young Professionals scheme are contained in chapter three (paragraph five) and appendix one of the policy paper.
Chapter three, paragraph five says that UK and India agree to ‘’facilitate the exchange of young professionals already in employment or entering working life, who wish to improve their career prospects through the experience of salaried work in a company registered in accordance with the laws and regulations of the other country’’.
Which young professionals are eligible for the Young Professionals scheme?
The UK and Indian governments have set an age criterion for the Young Professional scheme. The age range is eighteen to thirty years of age so some would say that the upper age limit is fairly generous.
However, in addition to meeting the age criteria, to be classed as a ‘’professional’’ the young person must ‘’ must hold a diploma / degree which validates as far as possible at least three years’ higher education corresponding to the qualification required for the employment on offer or have professional experience of comparable level in the sphere of activity concerned and be able to express themselves in the language(s) of the host country’’.
So, for Indian nationals looking to join the Young Professionals scheme not only will they need to meet the English language test but they will also need relevant qualifications as, unlike the skilled worker visa criteria, it is the visa applicant who must hold the qualification or professional experience rather than the job be at a specified skill level.
In addition to the age and qualification (or skill requirement) , an applicant for the Young Professional scheme must also:
- Be a national of India and hold a valid passport issued by India.
- To have not previously taken part in the scheme.
- Meet the general immigration rules and UK entry requirements.
- Meet a financial requirement and be able to demonstrate that they have the sufficient financial resources to meet their needs during their authorised period of stay.
- To pay the relevant immigration fees.
Will a Young Professional require sponsorship from a UK employer and a job offer?
The government memorandum of understanding says the purpose of the Young Professionals scheme is to enable young people to ‘’experience life in another culture, with the option of taking up employment as an incidental part of their stay’’.
Paragraph five, appendix one, says applicants who secure a Young Professional visa can't be employed in employment for which they are not qualified or as a professional sportsperson (including as a coach). The way immigration solicitors are reading this section is that the Young Professionals scheme isn’t a back door route to the employment of skilled Indian nationals in lower skilled roles than their qualifications would justify. In other words, the Young Professional scheme doesn’t address the shortage of lower skilled labour flowing into the UK following the end of free movement of EU nationals.
The current scheme information does not refer to a requirement for a Young Professionals scheme applicant to first secure a job offer or a sponsoring employer before being able to apply for entry clearance.
How long will a Young Professionals visa last for?
Anyone granted a visa under the Young Professional scheme will be able to stay in the UK on the visa for up to two years. The Young Professional can then apply for another suitable visa, such as a skilled worker visa (if they have a sponsoring employer )or a start-up visa if they want to set up their own innovative business.
Is there a quota for Young Professional scheme applicants?
The number of young Indian and UK professionals admitted by the UK or India can't exceed 3,000 Young Professionals per year per country under the Scheme. This number can be revised by agreement between the UK and India.
Will the Young Professionals scheme help the UK recruitment crisis?
At first glance, the Young Professionals scheme won't solve the recruitment problems being experienced in some UK industries and sectors, such as construction, hospitality and health care, as the scheme isn’t designed for lower skilled workers where the UK currently has more of a recruitment need . Of course, the government would say that the Young Professional scheme isn’t designed to do that but instead should create a specific visa opportunity with an important trade partner.
UK immigration solicitors
For legal help with any aspect of immigration law call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online for a video or telephone appointment. Our work visa and immigration law experts can help you assess the best visa route for you and prepare your visa application