A fast-track visa system has been extended across India by the UK government as it races the EU to lure talent to its shores.
The Super Priority visa service – where applicants can pay to have a visa decision made within 24 hours – has been rolled out across eight new locations in India.
It follows the signing of a trade deal with India by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – with hopes pinned on a full Free Trade deal in the future – following the rollout of a new immigration system which makes it easier for non-EU migrants to enter the UK following Brexit.
Significantly, the move also comes after the EU’s trade commissioner met last month with India’s minister of commerce and industry, Piyush Goyal, who Tweeted that it would ‘prove to be a milestone in the future of India-EU Trade’.
UK visa applications usually take 15 days but under the paid for Super Priority service a decision can be made by the end of the next working day. In addition to Delhi, the service has been widened to areas with booming tech hubs including Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai (South) and Pune.
And it has been welcomed by top immigration lawyer Mr. Yash Dubal, who says that the UK needs to identify further “hotspots” where this approach could speed up the arrival of world-class talent.
Mr Dubal, director of A Y & J Solicitors, says, “This is yet more good news for the likes of the UK’s tech sector, which will reap the benefits from being able to speed up the process of recruiting the very best personnel. It’s easy to see why UK Visas and Immigration have chosen these new areas in particular as each of them is going through a boom in the skilled technology sector – they are thriving and of course UK industry will want a slice of that.
“But the Super Priority visa service is not cheap. It costs around £800 for a next day decision and, of course, it does not mean that your application has an improved chance of being successful as applicants still need to fulfil all requirements including biometric testing. However, if this is carried out correctly, then it will lead to a much quicker route to starting work in the UK through the Visitor and transit visa, Skilled Worker visa, Temporary worker visa and Student visa routes.
“Personally, I would like to see this service appropriately rolled out to even more locations, especially at this time when the UK needs to rebuild many of its sectors. Many UK businesses are facing a huge shortage of skilled staff and will be looking for overseas talent as the pandemic subsides. Anything that can speed up that process will be welcomed by industry bosses.”
Last month, the Department for International Trade announced the signing of an Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) with India.
Foreign Secretary Truss also secured investment from Mumbai-based steel and tech firm Tata – which is already one of the UK’s major employers – to create 1,500 skilled technology sector jobs in the UK. She also agreed to relaunch the UK-India CEO Forum.