MoU on the migration and mobility partnership between India and the United Kingdom

The UK government today has announced a new immigration mobility scheme with India. This has some relevance in the context of post-Brexit Britain with many EU countries finding the doors closed to youth mobility, internships, and other economic vital routes. There is a press release and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) sets out the agreement.

The announced scheme is not exactly the same as the Youth Mobility Scheme that already exists although, it is aimed at the same age bracket being 18 to 30 years old (the visa lasts for 2 years like the YMS). However, there is a difference in this new scheme with India in that it is called a young professional scheme rather than the YMS and it is slightly more restrictive as applicants must meet the following condition (amongst other standard conditions):

"They must hold a diploma / degree which validates as far as possible at least three years’ higher education corresponding to the qualification required for the employment on offer or have professional experience of comparable level in the sphere of activity concerned and be able to express themselves in the language(s) of the host country."

What is not quite clear at this point is whether or not someone applying for the scheme would require sponsorship from a UK-based employer, there is an inference their sponsorship will be required on the basis of the employment on offer however, in the Annex 1 of the MoU which sets out the details of the scheme, there is no reference to sponsorship being required. This will be an interesting aspect of the scheme, as you could argue that a real mobility scheme would not have the requirement to be sponsored, so we shall see. The UK has assigned 3000 places initially to the scheme for Indian citizens.

The MoU includes more than just the young professional scheme however, a lot of the information that you see about visas, student internships and professional / research mobility and so on is just re-emphasising the existing immigration routes that apply to all nationalities. These aspects of the MoU simply reaffirm the commitment to make the existing system work better. There are repeated references to returning (expelling in other words), Indian nationals who breach the rules and the mandatory references to people trafficking and illegal migration that must accompany any Home Office announcement these days. So the MoU should not be interpreted as a wide-scale mobility arrangement, with the exception of the young professional scheme.

The contents of the MoU include this apparently irony free statement:

"…acknowledging that human exchanges and migratory movements help to bring people together and are a factor of economic, social and cultural development for both Participants’ countries."

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