Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi hold a bilateral meeting in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022 | Photo: AP
London: The British government on Tuesday celebrated the formal application launch of a new India-UK youth exchange programme as an illustration of the importance of bilateral ties, bringing "great benefits" to both countries.
The India-UK Young Professionals Scheme opened to graduates aged between 18 and 30 and keen to live, study, travel and work for up to two years in either country.
The reciprocal system, green-lit by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Rishi Sunak at the end of last year, is pegged as a chance for young people from both countries to "benefit from cultural experiences and inject expertise into both economies".
“The Young Professionals Scheme is a unique opportunity for British and Indian graduates to experience the richness of a new culture and way of life while building their professional experience and expertise,” said UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.
“This new scheme illustrates the importance of our relationship with India and will bring great benefits to both countries. I encourage young professionals from India and the UK who want to share their skills and talents to apply,” he said.
Indian nationals eligible for the scheme can enter a 48-hour free-of-charge ballot from Tuesday, from which 2,400 randomly selected applicants will then be invited to submit their visa applications to the British High Commission.
A further ballot is to be held later in the year.
On the UK end, British nationals keen to travel to India have been invited by the Indian High Commission in London to apply to the Young Professionals Scheme under a new visa application process detailed on its website.
“The UK encourages young professionals from both countries to experience each other's nations and participate in this cultural exchange,” the UK Home Office said.
While some work options will be open to successful applicants, the scheme is being pitched as a cultural exchange with employment an “incidental” aspect of the 24-month stay in either country.
The Young Professionals Scheme forms part of the UK-India Mobility and Migration Partnership (MMP) which was signed in May 2021 between then-UK home secretary Priti Patel and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
The UK government pointed out that the MMP includes a range of commitments to enhance arrangements on migration issues such as measures to “strengthen our ability to remove immigration offenders and ensure greater cooperation around organised immigration crime”.