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Britain to grant 20,000 visas to Indian workers annually

Posted by on February 21, 2011 0 Comment

London, Feb 21 (IANS) Britain is set to welcome 20,000 extra Indian workers annually as part of a secretive trade deal brokered by the European Union (EU), a media report said.

Under the EU-India Free Trade Agreement, European countries will grant India between 35,000 and 50,000 visas in return for four billion pounds worth of trade.

However, sources have revealed that India is demanding up to 20,000 of them should be provided by Britain, with only 7,000 asked of Germany and 3,000 from France. Estonia is expected to accept just 19 individuals, Daily Mail reported.

The agreement is expected to be signed later this year.

The 20,000 will not count towards the coalition’s pledge to cap net immigration at ‘tens of thousands’. Britain’s unemployment stands at 2.5 million.

The workers will be exempt from National Insurance in their first year but will be able to use the NHS, according to the newspaper Sunday.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: “The secrecy surrounding this deal has gone on long enough.

“This scheme makes a nonsense of efforts to limit economic migration.”

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, told The Sunday Telegraph: “Strict criteria are being negotiated to ensure there is a focus on highly-skilled and highly-qualified professionals entering the UK temporarily.”

Nearly 30,000 workers came to Britain from India last year. Two thirds of them travelled as part of the intra-company transfer scheme. They are except from the coalition’s interim immigration cap.

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