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UK and India launch migration partnership for young professionals

Out-Law News | 10 May 2021 | 3:44 pm | 2 min. read

The UK and Indian governments have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at making it easier for young professionals to live and work in both countries.

The agreement will allow up to 3,000 Indians aged between 18 and 30 with at least three years’ higher education to live and work in the UK for up to two years without requiring sponsorship. At the end of this period, those who are already in employment or have a promise of employment and who meet UK immigration requirements may continue to live in the UK to carry out their professional activity.

In return, UK nationals will be able to take advantage of the same rules in India.

The MoU is the first such agreement with a country where visas are normally required to visit the UK. It also covers immigration rules for students, skilled workers and academics.

Immigration expert Louisa Cole of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said the deal built on the announcement of the launch of the UK’s new Graduate Route on 1 July 2021. The route is aimed at encouraging international students who have completed at least an undergraduate degree in the UK to stay for two or three years.

“UK-based employers should look at utilising both new routes to assist in combatting the skills shortages created in the UK by Brexit and the end of free movement, as well as the government’s increasingly challenging points-based immigration system,” Cole said.

“This route will provide a useful springboard to young, highly skilled, professionals starting their career who may usually struggle to satisfy the salary requirements of sponsorship when starting out in the world of work. Additionally, it will provide UK employers with the opportunity to hire young professionals without committing to the expense and the compliance and administrative burden of sponsorship under the points-based system. It will also provide an alternative route to the Tier 5 government authorised exchange route which requires sponsorship from a designated organisation,” Cole said.

Cole said the scheme could be of particular interest to businesses in the information technology, financial services and infrastructure sectors, who typically sourced a large amount of their skilled workforce from countries such as India.

“Employers should harness the opportunities presented by this route which will allow them to recruit skilled young talent from India to undertake internships, lower salaried positions, research projects and overseas short-term assignments. This route is also a fantastic mechanism to bring skilled overseas talent to work in the UK for employers who aren't in possession of a UK sponsor licence, which is the main vehicle required to employ non-British nationals in the UK,” Cole said.

The government said the UK remained a popular destination for young Indians, with over 53,000 Indian students coming to the UK to study last year, up 42% on the previous year. It said India was benefitting from the new, post-Brexit points-based immigration system, which requires those coming to the UK to work to meet requirements including having a job offer, minimum salary requirements and English language skills.

The UK government added that the MoU would help stop “unfair manipulation” of the immigration system by a small minority of Indian nationals who breached their visa terms.