Tier 4 visa students stuck in UK awaiting Tier 1 PSW visa

Foreign students currently living in the UK on Tier 4 visas are upset that they are stuck without their passports for extended periods of time while the UKBA processes their Tier 1 Post Study visa applications. This leaves them in a legal limbo, unsure of their right to stay in the UK, but unable to go back home. These are Tier 4 visa students who have recently graduated from a UK institution and wish to stay in the UK on another visa.

The visa rules changed in April, closing the Tier 1 Post Study Work visa route; it has been suggested that this prompted an increase in applications ahead of the deadline which led to an application backlog.

Tier 4 visa students claim they have waited for up to five months without their passports. More than 600 students have signed an online petition that states that "the deplorable quality of service provided by the UKBA ill befits a nation like the United Kingdom".

The National Union of Students (NUS) says this is becoming a "serious problem" and a "complete outrage" which makes the UK even more unattractive to foreign students.

"International students are facing the direct financial and emotional costs of an under-resourced UKBA," said Daniel Stevens, international students' officer for the NUS. "Having paid thousands of pounds in visa application fees and after facing a raft of bureaucratic procedures, their applications have now been put in put in a pile with little hope of being processed in a timely manner."

Many students on Tier 4 visas have expressed their concern about the inability to communicate with UKBA about the progress of their Tier 1 PSW UK visa application.

"Vulnerable students are now stuck in the UK unable to work, unable to go home to their families and unable to get on with their lives," NUS said in a statement.

"Students should come to the UK to study not work. That is why this April we stopped the automatic right for students to stay on and find work after their studies," said an UKBA spokesperson. "The remaining applications will be worked through by the end of the summer and applicants will be contacted once a decision is made."

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