ETW STAFF – Mumbai
Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) raised a question on the recent proposal made by the UK government on the UK Visa bond wherein ‘high risk passengers’ are required to sign a bond of 3000 pounds. In a letter addressed to Guldeep Singh Sahni, president, OTOAI, Sir James Bevan, British High Commissioner in India sought to clarify the issue regarding the bond scheme for UK visa applicants. The letter released to the press stated, “Britain is and will remain open: for business, for students, and for the hundreds of thousands of Indian visitors and tourists who come to the UK every year. We have an excellent visa service in India – 12 application centres (more than any other country), fast turnaround, and a positive approach – nine out of ten Indians who apply for a UK visa get one. And we are constantly seeking to improve our service, for example with the new same-day visa we launched recently. India is the first country in the world with this service.
Putting forth his views on the same, Sahni said, “It is for the first time the British High Commission is creating a partnership. They are addressing to sort out issues. They don’t want the leisure, business and student travellers to be impacted by the UK visa bond. We have requested them to keep India out of it. India should not be bracketed because of the potential investment it is bringing to the UK.”
The letter further states, “At the same time we are committed to tackling abuse of our immigration rules. As part of that, the UK government is considering a pilot scheme which would test the impact of requiring a financial bond from certain visa applicants to deter them from overstaying their visa. No decisions have been taken on the details of how such a scheme would work. Any such scheme would be tightly targeted on a small number of visa applicants assessed as high risk, and designed in a way that does not cut across the UK’s wish to remain open for business, students and tourists.”