13 May 2009

New UK visa system caused major shake up for educators

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The number of approved educational institutions for UK student visa holders has reduced by 13,500 since the British government introduced the new UK visa system.

The new points-based UK visa application process means that UK student visa holders need to have sponsorship to study in Britain on a UK visa by an approved college.  Colleges get their approval by applying for a sponsorship licence, and proving to the government that they are a legitimate educational institution. 

The purpose is to flush out the bogus colleges that foreigners use for their fraudulent UK visa application and student visas as a means of exploiting the UK immigration system.

Before the changes were implemented, around 15,000 colleges were registered with the UK.  Now, according to BBC News, there are only 1,500 officially allowed to sponsor a UK visa application for a student to study here.

A statement from the Home Office has said that the tightening of regulations sends a strong message to potential illegal UK visa applicants that they would not tolerate such wrong doings.

"We have made it clear that we will not tolerate either the fraudulent applicants trying to abuse Britain's immigration rules, or the dodgy colleges that facilitate them."

Students will also need to supply biometric information for their UK visa application so that they can apply for an Identity Card, which shows their right to study, work and live in the UK temporarily.

Gina Hobson from the British Accreditation Council has reminded that while the tighter rules for the UK student visa (Tier 4) has worked well to flush out those bogus colleges exploiting the system, there are other reasons as to why the number has dropped so dramatically.

"Not every institution that was on the old Dius register needs to be on the new Tier 4 list [the stricter register] - some institutions do not teach students from outside Europe and so do not need to register with Tier 4. Some may have not yet registered."

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa application and immigration services.

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