London : London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said he will continue to lobby the UK government to change its rules around immigration as he branded the exclusion of Indians from an easier student visa application regime as “offensive” and a “wasted opportunity”.

Dismissing UK government claims over visa overstayers from India, Khan said the evidence did not back up the concerns.

 “To link the two, illegal immigration and students is deeply offensive and also muddies the waters. This hostile environment (to immigration) is still here and we need real concrete evidence that it will change,” Khan said on the sidelines of the UK-India Awards here last evening, reports PTI.  “There isn’t a problem about students overstaying… All the evidence shows that Indians who study here leave with a very positive attitude. So, when they become chief executives or investors, they invest in the UK,” he said.

 The senior Labour party leader challenged the Theresa May-led Conservative party government’s “blind spot”, which fails to take into account the benefits of immigration to Britain.

 “I feel this government is being very complacent about Indian investment. They assume it will always be here. My message to the government is no; these talented people can go elsewhere,” he warned.

Khan said he would continue to lobby the government to change rules, not just for tourists and students but also for Bollywood because film producers are now going to other parts of Europe as filming in London becomes far more difficult because of visa restrictions and the high cost of visitor visas.

 He added, “As we leave the European Union (EU), we need to use this opportunity to build better links with countries outside the EU. We must realise Indians are equal partners, we mustn’t talk down to them. It’s a competition to attract talented Indians and we have got to be competing”.

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