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Thursday, January 12, 2023

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Visas, social security delay UK trade talks

 

Delhi, India: There are delays in the trade talks between India and the UK. Even though the goods side appears to be moving forward, British negotiators have made only limited progress on making it easier for Indians to move around on work and business visas. Under the terms of the proposed free trade agreement (FTA), Indian negotiators have repeatedly stated to their British counterparts that the talks are about the movement of personnel and professionals and have nothing to do with immigration. However, there has been a perception that the UK is unwilling to relax regulations for genuine business employees.


Additionally, the other impediment that Indian workers in the UK face is their social security contributions. India wants the UK to eliminate social security contributions, which can amount to 20 percent of a worker's salary in some cases. They say that they won't get any benefits unless they stay for a long time in the UK. However, due to restrictions on visas, the deadline is never met, and employees are denied credit for the social security contribution, which turns into a tax.


On the other hand, the Indian side believes that contributions to social security should be refunded or that contributions made in India should be credited. However, little progress has been made on this front thus far. An official stated, "There has been some progress in the talks, but there has not been much progress on the services side," adding that proposals are still under consideration. According to a source who is familiar with the negotiations, some of the issues were discussed by commerce and minister Piyush Goyal in his bilateral meeting with Kemi Badenoch. In point of fact, it is thought that Goyal made it abundantly clear that immigration was not on India's agenda and that the government was looking into making it easier for professionals in technology and other fields to work in the UK.


For instance, negotiators have attempted to convince British negotiators that, even if an Indian company provides IT services, temporary visas may be required to carry out the contract. In addition, Indian businesses that have established themselves in the UK may need to utilize their workforce in India as well, and visa regulations ought to permit mobility.


In addition, officials stated that eligibility requirements existed even for workers applying for visas.

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