UK and India agree new migration deal

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What’s the agreement?

The agreement is part of the UK Government’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’, with the aim of attracting the best and brightest to come to the UK through legal routes. It is considered that the element most likely to result in substantive change to the Immigration Rules is the “Young Professional Scheme”, similar to the current Youth Mobility Scheme, which is in place for a small number of developed countries. The Young Professional Scheme will allow Indian nationals aged between 18 and 30 to live and work in the UK for up to two years, and vice versa, with an initial quota of 3,000 places per year.

To be considered for the scheme, applicants must either hold a diploma or degree similar to the employment that is on offer, or have professional experience of comparable level. Unlike the Youth Mobility Scheme, they must also demonstrate that they can speak the language of the host country.

How much of an impact will it have?

Home Secretary, Priti Patel, considers that that this agreement will ‘provide new opportunities to thousands of young people in the UK and India to live, work and experience each other’s cultures, as well as address long standing problems of illegal migration from India to the UK.’

In reality, it’ll be difficult to assess, in the short term, the impact of this agreement. From the UK’s perspective, it does not really offer Indian nationals a great deal extra compared with nationals from other countries wanting to work in the UK. Some might say it lacks any real punch and is simply the existing system with a few minor concessions.

The fact the Young Professionals route is subject to a quota also dilutes its appeal. This is all coming at a time when international travel is still subject to a great deal of scrutiny and restriction which may not ease in the short term while these new routes are established.

That said, it is encouraging that the UK Government is prepared to enter into international migration agreements such as these. This could go towards reducing the impact of the removal of free movement of people from Europe to the UK, and ensure that our new immigration system does not prevent us from attracting a diverse and internationally talented UK-based workforce.

Thinking of becoming a sponsor?

If you regularly recruit talent from India, or do business there or have offices there as part of your group structure, you may have previously decided against becoming a sponsor due to the high skills and salary requirements required to bring Indian nationals to the UK for work. With this new agreement, you may want to reconsider this option going forward, as the current agreement suggests that there will be no minimum salary level required (other than minimum living wage, of course). If you’d like to explore this further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Our South East Asian desk is made up of lawyers who enjoy close and personal links to India, all of whom can help you trade and navigate the legal, economic and political specificities in this vibrant and diverse region. To find out more about our international desks, please click here.