India to take back illegal migrants to UK in return for visas for young workers


(Corrects figure to tens of thousands in paragraph 6)

By Alasdair Pal

NEW DELHI - The United Kingdom and India on Tuesday signed an agreement on migration and mobility between the two countries, an Indian foreign ministry official said.

The pact will provide enhanced employment opportunities for 3,000 young Indian professionals annually, in return for India agreeing to take back any of its citizens who are living illegally in the UK, Sandeep Chakravorty told a news conference.

"It is our solemn duty that Indian nationals who are undocumented, or are in distress abroad and not being given nationality or residence permits, have to be taken back," he said.

Migration has long been a source of friction between the two countries, with a similar proposal collapsing in 2018 due to disagreements.

At the time, London claimed there were as many as 100,000 Indians living illegally in the UK, though New Delhi disputes this figure.

Tens of thousands of Indians study in the UK each year, and New Delhi has complained about a lack of employment opportunities available to them when they finish their studies.

The migration pact comes after the two countries announced 1 billion pounds ($1.39 billion) of private-sector investment. Talks on a full trade deal are due to begin in the autumn.

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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