Some good news for high ups who have to travel to Britain on business – Looks her majesty’s kingdom will soon be offering the first “same-day” visa service to the world’s “economic boom cities”, according to yesterday’s Evening Standard, with India being the first to benefit from the new model. An announcement regarding the new scheme came from British Prime Minister David Cameron during his visit to Mumbai. According to the PM, he wants “Britain and India to share a special relationship”. Well I suppose one could see this as a positive step towards a better to-and-fro between our two nations, but how far it will really go remains to be seen. The same-day service will initially only be available to Chief Executives and Financial Directors of large Multi-National Companies, in return for a premium processing fee. Of course Mr. Cameron isn’t offering this new scheme out of the goodness of his heart alone. In return for this show of faith he has demanded that India do more to open up its economy to Great Britain and make it easier for the two to do business.
No doubt this is a pretty good first step. Though I don’t know just how many people will really benefit from the scheme in its nascent stage, its a good showing of the direction that Britain wants to take in building up its relationship with its “former colony”. That’s the term that the Evening Standard used by the way on Page 4 of yesterday’s paper. Not one I find particularly appropriate, though I’m sure it was just someone trying to be witty. I’m going to go ahead and say, in the language of today’s internet, MAJOR FAIL!
What I’m wondering is how far this is going towards possibly seeing the relaxing of requirements for visitors. It can be such a pain to get a visa to travel to the UK for a visit and the cost of the visa application itself is not exactly moderate. Furthermore, if you want to travel around Europe as well (and why shouldn’t you since you’re coming all this way?!) there is a completely separate visa to apply for – the Schengen – and even that doesn’t cover all of the EU. The system can be so frustrating. I don’t think my European friends realize just how good they have it.
The good news for students though is that the PM has made assurances that those with authentic offers from bona fide colleges will not face major obstacles in getting visas to come study in Britain and that there would “no limit” to how many would be allowed to immigrate to study. He also said that they would be allowed to stay on in graduate level jobs after they attained their qualifications, news which comes as sweet relief I am sure to many current students.
Let us see how far this trip of Mr. Cameron’s goes further to cement relations and open up new avenues for British and Indian citizens alike. Or what further benefits might come from such meetings spurring on more still with other nations. Though we share a long-standing connection with good ol’ GB, India has always been good at making friends with most (other than our two neighbors directly above of course), so hopefully this can also be a stepping stone to negotiate with the EU economy collectively.