Visa bond: Students, travellers wait for clarity

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi/Mumbai Aug. 1 | Updated on March 09, 2018

New Delhi adopts strong posture, raises issue with Foreign Office

Travelling to the UK has never been easy because of the tedious visa regime. The proposed visa bond of £3,000 for certain categories of travellers will only make things more difficult.

While education consultants and travel companies are waiting for more clarity, New Delhi has adopted an aggressive stance on the proposal.

Usha Albuquerque, Founder Director, Career Smart, said, “It is going to be a dampener for students looking to go to the UK. This year’s students will not be affected. But for subsequent years, there is a fear that after going through the whole system of getting admission and visa, one will have to pay an additional bond.”

She also believes it may not be an effective way to filter out students who intend to overstay, as students are usually financially more constrained than travellers. Besides, very few jobs are available in the UK or Europe right now.

Natasha Chopra, Promoter Director of educational consultancy The Chopras, added that students have not completely stopped applying for UK visa. They are waiting for more clarity from the UK High Commission.

Leisure travel

Travel companies believe, if implemented, the new regime will mostly hit those visiting friends and families. “In fact, even leisure travellers may drop the UK travel plan because of the complications involved,” said Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder, Ixigo, a travel planning website.

A section of the travel industry feels this is more bad news for the sector as a weak rupee is anyway making foreign trips costlier. But, on the flip side, this decision could make easy access for those whose visa requests would have otherwise been rejected.

Madhavan Menon, Managing Director, Thomas Cook, said that only high-risk travellers may be asked to furnish the £3,000 refundable visa bond though that will be subjectively determined.

Added Keyur Joshi, co-founder and COO, MakeMyTrip, “I think one will have to wait for a next six months to truly understand the implication of how the condition is used or misused.”

Karan Anand, head-relationships, Cox and Kings, said that people taking package tours to the UK do not stay beyond a few days and will not be impacted.

Retrograde step

Miffed with the bond idea, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has said such a retrograde measure and negative step should not be taken as it would affect bilateral relations. “…we have raised this matter with our High Commissioner in UK and the Foreign Office, but they have not received any confirmation of any such step having been put in place or a proposal been cleared by the British Cabinet,” Sharma said.

The UK has been tightening its visa regime since 2010 to check immigration in the backdrop of the global slowdown affecting jobs in that country.

The Ministry of External Affairs has also conveyed its concerns. “The British officers were told that the proposed move was not in conformity with our existing relationships.

British officials conveyed the message that the move was still work-in-progress and it will be better if further consultations were held at a higher level,” MEA source told Business Line.

(Inputs from Ashwini Phadnis, Amiti Sen, Aesha Datta, Nivedita Ganguly)

Published on August 01, 2013

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