A survey of over 1,000 migration agents revealed an optimistic opinion of UK visa policy.
20 November 2012
Survey shows UK visa restrictions easing
A survey of over 1,000 UK immigration agents from around the world showed that the general opinion of UK visa restrictions is beginning to soften despite several changes to policy.
The Conservative-led coalition Government has repeatedly stated its intention to bring down net migration to the UK before the next election. However, due to certain restrictions and requirements as part of the country's membership of the European Union, the Government has set its sights on international students and other forms of legitimate UK immigration.
In the past few months, the Government has added restrictions to international student UK visa and immigration policies which have included the removal of post study working rights and tougher language requirements. The changes, which have proved highly controversial, culminated in the removal of sponsor status for the London Metropolitan University (LMU) earlier this year.
Yet despite the changes, fewer migration agents have reported problems obtaining visas for clients this year.
In the annual i-graduate ICEF Agent Barometer survey, just 45% of agents said they had problems getting student visas, down from 52% in the 2011 survey. The difference has seen Canada surpass the UK in the survey's ranking of the toughest countries to obtain study visas for.
The UK is a world leader in the international education industry alongside the US, Canada and Australia and while the debate continues unabated as to the UK's perception of foreign students, the survey showed 76% of agents expecting to send even more students to the UK in the coming school year.
Marissa Murdock, casework manager at the UK Visa Bureau, says it's pleasing to see more positive attitudes to a visa stream despite negative news reports.
"It's an unfortunate reality that the changes to the student visa system combined with the highly publicised argument they have caused aren't doing the UK many favours in the eyes of prospective students but it's nice to see the reality of visa applications not reflecting that," said Ms Murdock.
"The UK has some of the best education institutions in the world and their continuing reputations rely on the country to allow the brightest and best students from around the world to come and study and research.
"International students contribute enormously to the country's multicultural society, no to mention the billions they contribute economically. It's vital international students continue to come."
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.