UK immigration has announced a ban on applications from students in North India, Bangladesh and Nepal. From 1 February 2010 no new applications will be accepted under the Tier 4 student visa of the points at the following visa application centres:
- North India - New Delhi, Jalandhar and Chandigarh
- Bangladesh - Dhaka, Sylhet and Chittagong
- Nepal - Kathmandu
There was a huge increase in the number of UK student visa applications made in the last three months of 2009; 13,500 application were made in Northern India compared to 1,800 applications in the same period of 2008.
UK Visa offices have had difficulty coping with the number of applications. There have also been concerns that many student visa applications are not genuine. Some visa companies have been encouraging people to apply for student visas as a way of staying in the UK on a long term basis. However, it is interesting to note that the UK has itself been encouraging students to spend more time in the UK. For example many students after completing their studies in the UK can then apply for a Tier 1 Post Study Work visa enabling them to work in the UK for two years. After Tier 1 PSW you may then be able to apply for Tier 1 General which leads to settlement in the UK.
The British high commissioner in Delhi, Sir Richard Stagg, said that steps would be taken to prevent abuse of the system. UK Visa offices will be making additional checks on visa applications. Visa applications in the above locations are suspended. This will be reviewed at the end of February 2010.
Jeremy Oppenheim, head of the points-based system at the UK Border Agency, had the following to say:
'The points-based system gives us the flexibility to act to maintain the integrity of the visa system, while processing legitimate applications fairly, thoroughly and as quickly as possible.
'We continually check and monitor all student applications and education providers to ensure that they meet the required standards set by the points-based system. As a result of this routine monitoring and an increase in applications, we have temporarily stopped accepting new applications from North India, Nepal and Bangladesh while we carry out an investigation to ensure they are all genuine.
'We will take tough action against those who attempt to abuse the system.'
It should be noted that UK Universities and colleges are very dependent on fee income from overseas students including income from Indian students. Some overseas students are paying over GBP20,000 a year in fees. Overseas students may pay three times the rate of home students. Many UK educational institutions would be in financial difficulties if they did not have overseas student fee income.