Press Trust of India
Dehradun, 2 October
Assuaging India’s concern over the proposed visa bond, British High Commissioner to India James Bevan today said “it is just a proposal still under consideration” and even if it comes into being it will apply to a few cases where the risk of visa rules violation is high.
“It is just a proposal still under consideration. It may come into existence or it may not in the future. We have held talks with Indian authorities over the issue and are aware that they don’t want it. A decision will be taken in due course,” Mr Bevan, who was here on his maiden visit to Uttarakhand, said before leaving for Rishikesh.
However, even if the visa bond finally comes into force it will apply to a very small number of people, he said.
India has already voiced its displeasure over the proposed scheme to introduce a 3,000 pounds bond for visitors from six high-risk countries, which includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana.
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma had in June said: "How can a country that is a strategic partner be categorised as a high-risk country, in the bracket with some of the others. If that were to be true, that would be taken as an affront."
Mr Bevan said today: “We want closer ties with India and want Indian tourists, students and businessmen to visit our country and the visa bond, even if imposed finally, is not going to change all that. Currently we receive nearly 4 lakh visa applications from India every year and 90 per cent of them are cleared. This is not going to change as this bond will apply only to cases where there is a clear possibility of visa rules being violated.”
When asked how long would it take the British authorities to arrive at a decision on the matter, he refused to set a time-frame.
“We want to take the right decision and not a quick one which is not right.”
Asked what will be the method of identifying high-risk cases, Mr Bevan said different aspects of the matter are still being looked into but it may be people who have never been to the UK before and are going there for the first time with not enough money to take care of them during their stay there which would give rise to the possibility that they may overstay. “In short, a visa bond will be needed only in case of a serious worry not otherwise,” he said.
There is a British proposal to impose a visa bond of 3,000 pounds on Indian visa seekers who will loose the amount if they violate visa rules, he said.
Britain’s Conservative-led coalition government is divided over the matter and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had said last month that he will try to block any attempt to make foreign visitors routinely pay a security deposit to come to the UK.