UK offering visa centre in Punjab
The Times Of India
6 Feb 2008, 0226 hrs IST,TNN
CHANDIGARH: In order to check the growing trend of illegal immigration, the United Kingdom minister of state for borders and immigration Liam Byrne on Tuesday offered to open visa centre in Punjab to facilitate Punjabis to immigrate legally.
Byrne made this offer at Punjab Bhawan during a luncheon meeting hosted by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
The visiting UK minister said his government would initially open a visa centre either at Chandigarh or Jalandhar and later convert it into a full-fledged consulate.
He also evinced keen interest to extend cooperation to Punjab government in upgrading technical skills and knowledge through experts and teachers exchange programmes in primary and secondary education with special focus on student exchange programme.
Byrne also met Punjab DGP NPS Aulakh in his office. The visiting delegation discussed with him the feasibility of video conferencing link between London and Punjab police headquarters for fast-tracking verification of national status of illegal immigrants.
The minister expressed keen desire to resume exchange visits of police officials of India and UK and requested assistance from Punjab police regarding illegal immigration to UK.
Aulakh apprised the delegation of the efforts being made by Punjab police to check illegal immigration and informed about the proposed Punjab Human Trafficking Act. The DGP raised the issue of NRIs coming to India, marrying Indian girls and then deserting them and sought the cooperation of UK government in taking legal action against such persons.
Later, addressing a press conference, Byrne said UK was contemplating reduction in tourist visa period from six to four months. However, there was no move to reduce the time period for family visa, he added.