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Changing diplomatic landscapes (Bangalore)

Diplomatic reciprocity is something new for India and it's great the government finds itself now on a more equal footing. Anyone know why the British High Commissions find themselves to be just a little weird when it comes to silly rules?

From day before yesterday's article in the Times of India:

Indians have often been at the receiving end of UK visa regulations in the recent past but New Delhi for once has managed to tame the British authorities. In yet another visa row between the two countries - this time around in a third country - India has forced the UK to roll back its decision to bar Indians to apply for UK visas from Belgium.

In what is being described by officials as a strange decision, British authorities stopped issuing visas to Indians in Belgium and instead asked them to travel to Paris to apply for the same.

With its new-found assertiveness, the foreign ministry retaliated by not just issuing a note verbale to British authorities to protest the decision but also immediately stopped issuing visas to UK nationals seeking Indian visa in Brussels. They were asked to go back to London and apply for Indian visa there.

Highly placed sources told TOI that the decision forced the UK to beat a quick retreat. Now, London has approached India, formally communicating its decision to roll back its decision and ensure visa facility to Indians from Brussels.

The Indian retaliation though was not limited to restricting UK nationals from applying for visa in Brussels. It also increased the visa fee, bringing it on par with the money charged from Indians for UK visa.

"Now that they have given in, we have also decided to restore visa facilities for UK nationals in Belgium. There will be no change in the visa cost though," said a source. Apparently, the number of UK nationals seeking Indian visa in Brussels was more than the other way round.

The UK decision not to issue visa to Indians inconvenienced not only diplomats and other Indians based in Belgium, but also many Indian travellers, including VIPs, who wished to fly to London and did not have a visa. Belgian capital Brussels is not only a travel hub in Europe, but also one of the main centres of international politics.

Besides, Britain announced further restrictions in its immigration system this week that could severely impact Indians planning to settle there. British immigration minister Damian Green declared that the changes in the UK immigration system will mean that migrant workers coming to the UK on a skilled worker visa will no longer be able to settle in the UK based on the amount of time they have spent in the country.

Breaking the link between coming to the UK to work and staying forever, the new rules will ensure that only "exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs" will have the option to stay in the UK. "Skilled temporary workers who want to apply for settlement will have to earn at least £35,000, or the going rate for their job, whichever is higher," said the British High Commission in a statement.

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