31 March 2009

New UK student visa applications under strict new Tier 4 system

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The Home Office has released figures today showing that more UK student visa applications are being revealed as fraudulent because of its tough new system.

Almost a quarter of UK student visa applications have been picked out as being attempts to abuse the UK system for immigration.  Educational institutions who have not registered with the government for a sponsorship licence cannot sponsor an overseas student to move to the UK.

While over two thousand bona fide educational institutions have registered with the Home Office, after being assessed by officials for their authenticity, around 460 institutions have had their application rejected because they do not meet the government's standards.

Tomorrow, Tier 4 student visa of the new points-based system for immigration is due to go live, which means that all UK student visa applications will have to use new UK visa application forms and obtain sponsorship from a licensed university, independent school or college.  They will also need to prove their ability to financially support themselves for nine months while studying in the UK and provide biometric information to the UK Border Agency.

The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the strict new system would ensure that bogus students would not infiltrate and abuse the UK immigration system.

"This new tier of the points-based system allows us to know exactly who is coming to the UK to study and crack down on bogus colleges," Ms Smith said in a statement.
 
"I have made it clear that I will not tolerate either the fraudulent applicants trying to abuse Britain’s immigration rules, or the dodgy colleges that facilitate them. However, Britain will always welcome legitimate students who are coming here to receive a first-rate education."

Professor Mary Ritter, Pro Rector of International Affairs at Imperial College London said the international student programme in the UK is incredibly valuable to them as an institution.

"It’s vital that, while taking appropriate border control measures, we don’t make it difficult for these students to come to the UK.  For that reason we are very pleased that the government has decided to extend the maximum length of the Tier 4 visa from the planned four years to cover the complete duration of a student’s course. This will be particularly helpful for medical students," Professor Witter added to the statement.
 
"We also welcome moves to make the system simpler for institutions and students."

Last year, tuition fees from international students reached a total of £2.5 billion pounds.


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