British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday (7 November) held talks with her Indian counterpart on a range of subjects but rejected the calls to offer more visas to Indians. The two leaders agreed to boost their cooperation in an array sectors such as defence, trade, technology, infrastructure, terrorism and cyber war.
Following the talks in New Delhi, the duo addressed a joint press conference heaping praises on each other. While both of them stressed on nurturing the "shared values" of both the countries, there was no credible outcome on relaxing tougher immigration policies of Britain for Indians – a key expectation of India, the third largest investor in the UK.
The joint statement added: "The 2 leaders noted that the UK remained a popular destination for Indian students and that these students add to deepening India-UK partnership across all sectors of bilateral engagement.
"Prime Minister May noted that there remained no cap on overall numbers of international students studying at recognised educational institutions in the UK, that Indian students would continue to be welcome and that the UK Home Secretary had recently announced her intention to consult on changes to the UK student visa regime."
As part of the immigration crackdown, when May was the Home Secretary the post-study visa scheme allowing graduates to apply for a two-year stay after their study was scrapped. This had greatly affected the Indian students bringing down their numbers by up to 50% a year becoming a major cause of concern for New Delhi.
May, nonetheless, hinted the UK could show a bit more flexibility on the matter when she told reporters: "The UK will consider further improvements to our visa offer if at the same time we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain."
Accompanied by a 40-member delegation, May is on her first bilateral trade visit outside Europe, chiefly to discuss the post-Brexit relations with India. In total, trade deals worth £1bn are expected to be signed by the time May leaves India.
On his part, Modi told the reporters: "India-UK ties are truly special. It is an enduring partnership, which is nurtured by our shared values, extensive people-to-people linkages."
He further said, "In my extensive discussions with Prime Minister May today, we looked at the full range of our partnership. The spread and depth of our engagement has indeed been impressive. We also agreed to add new domains and initiatives to broaden the scope of our linkages."
Both the leaders did not take any question from the media.
Read the India-UK joint statement in full here.
Watch Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Theresa May's joint press address here.