16-Jul-2018

India and UK may sign agreement on return of illegal immigrants

New Delhi, April 13: India and UK hope to ink a revised pact on return of illegal immigrants when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits London this month for the Commonwealth Summit. The existing agreement ended in 2014. 
 
The MoU seeks to “ensure the return of persons who have no lawful basis to be in the territory of the other party after verification of nationality to its satisfaction”.
 
The agreement will also help provide information to police about known criminals, including sex offenders, on both sides. 
 
“As and when we are informed that someone is illegal and the status has been confirmed by Indian High Commission in London, we have a mechanism to bring them back.
 
We ended the process in 2014, but we still have the procedure in place,” said K Nagaraj Naidu, Joint Secretary, Europe West. 
 
However, India disagrees with UK Homeland authorities that number of Indians overstaying their visas run into several thousands.
 
Indian officials argue that once the individual claims to have lost their passport, ascertaining identity could be time taking and all South Asian migrants must not be profiled as Indians.
 
Officials also point out that post 2008 Indian Passport Issuing Authority has captured biometric data of individuals which is easier to compare with British database.
 
But passports issued prior to 2008 are complicated ones. “In the last ten years, only some 5000 Indians have been deported back,” said Naidu.
 
Most of these returning Indians belonged to Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu among others, he said. 
 
The Cabinet that approved the MoU on Wednesday said it will streamline “procedure of return of nationals who are caught to be staying illegally, belonging to the other party in a specified time-frame”. 
 
Under the revised Returns Agreement, if an individual is proved 100 per cent as Indian by authorities on both sides, then deportation must happen with 15 days.
 
The time period is 70 days for individuals whose records are not found in the passport database, since it would require local administration ascertaining in such cases.
 
The nationals set to return are then issued emergency certificates instead of passports to fly back to India. 
Modi who will hold formal talks with counterpart Theresa May during his Commonwealth visit, and will also call on the Queen and hold a diaspora interaction.