London, August 23
The UK playing host to the ICC Cricket World Cup in June led to a significant boost in travel figures to the country from India, according to the official data.
The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), which released the data this week, found that more than 503,000 Indian nationals received visitor visas for the year ending June 2019, which marks an 11 per cent increase compared to the previous year.
The ONS data, published every quarter, also shows that Indian and Chinese nationals together accounted for nearly half (49 per cent) of all visitor visas granted for the year until June.
“It looks like the number of Indian fans who travelled to the UK for the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales was even greater than we imagined and I hope to see even more visitors from India in the future,” said Dominic Asquith, the British High Commissioner to India.
“The more Indians who visit, the stronger the living bridge becomes between our two countries. I look forward to working with our partners in India to ensure this impressive record continues,” he said.
The number of Indian students studying in the UK also registered a 42 per cent increase so far this year.
In addition to the visitor visas, nearly 22,000 Indian nationals received a Tier 4 (study) visa for the year ending June 2019 – up from approximately 15,000 the previous year.
The British High Commission in New Delhi noted that the number of Indians studying in the UK has almost doubled in three years and is now at the highest levels since 2011.
Also, Indian nationals continue to receive more UK skilled work visas than the rest of the world combined, accounting for 52 per cent of all Tier 2 visas granted globally.
More than 56,000 Indians received skilled work visas – a 5 per cent increase compared to the previous year, which is also the largest increase for any country.
“The continued rise in these figures is fantastic news for the UK-India relationship. It also shows that the UK continues to be a welcoming place for Indians to work, study and vacation,” added Asquith.
The latest set of figures relate to the period between June 2018 and June 2019.
They also indicate that study has overtaken work as the main reason behind migration to the UK, with 218,000 coming into the country for education and 214,000 to work and China, India and the US registering the biggest hike in student numbers.
The ONS said this week that it would be downgrading its migration figures to “experimental” statistics after it was forced to admit that it had under-estimated numbers from within the European Union (EU) and over-estimated those coming to the UK from the rest of the world, including India. — PTI
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