04 January 2010
UK immigration Minister says student visa system is working
Claims that the UK points-based visa system for overseas students is easy to abuse have been refuted by the Immigration Minister.
Border Agency staff claim they have little power to challenge suspected cases of bogus applications under the new rules, but Mr Woolas has said the new system was a "huge improvement on the past."
The alleged bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who has been charged with attempting to bomb a US airplane, was refused a UK Student Visa early last year.
Under the points-based system, to qualify for a UK Visa non-EU students have to show a letter of acceptance from educational sponsors, either an accredited college or university, earning 30 points.
Potential students must gain a further 10 points by proving to UK Immigration they have the means to pay course fees and expenses, but Border Agency staff have told the media that this paper-based process has the potential for abuse.
It is a claim that Mr Woolas has rejected saying: “There will always be examples of people who try to play the system".
"I'm not denying that there aren't problems but what I would say is that this system is a huge improvement on the past."
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the think tank Migration Watch, and a former diplomat has criticised the new system in the past because of the largely paper-based process, whereas previously applicants had to satisfy an immigration officer they were genuine.
"Now it just goes through a system because it's paper based, tick the boxes, produce the documents in you go," he said.
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their UK Visa applications at the British Embassy.