India's leading business trade body has pressed the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, to loosen visa restrictions that it says are making it harder for foreign companies to bring workers into Britain.
Kris Gopalakrishnan, the president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and a founder of the IT outsourcing giant Infosys, said accessibility of visas was "tightening" as he embarked on a trade mission to London.
Indian firms are facing greater problems in America, where legislation goes before the Senate next week designed to cut the heavy use of H-1B temporary visas. Four Indian IT contractors – Cognizant, TCS, Infosys and Wipro – accounted for 40 per cent of all this type of visa awarded in the US last year.
"The process is different in each of the countries [but] the problems are similar because, as unemployment has gone up, countries have tightened their visas," Mr Gopalakrishnan said. "We need to make sure there is no long-term impact. Globally, we are all becoming services economies. The free movement of professionals is clubbed with immigration which is a different category. We need to separate these things out."
The debate over Britain's visa regime has pitted the Home Secretary, Theresa May – who this year scrapped the Border Agency to tighten up security – against culture and business ministers eager to welcome big-spending tourists and highly skilled workers to the UK.
Mr Gopalakrishnan reported "genuinely warm" talks with Mr Cable.
He was also due to meet Sir Mike Rake, the BT chairman and president of the CBI.