UK eases north India visa ban

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 14.02.10
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London, Feb. 13 (PTI): The UK partially lifed the ban on accepting visa applications from students in north India, bringing relief among among thousands who wish to study in the country.

Pat McFadden, the British minister for business, innovation and skills said: “The suspension was taken in response to a huge surge in applications over a very short period of time.”

“I am delighted to be able to announce today that, from March 1, this suspension will be lifted for all students wanting to study higher education courses, whether foundation degrees, undergraduate or postgraduate.”

However, he added the temporary suspension would remain in place for those wanting to study at lower levels.

McFadden said: “But we will continue to keep this under review and will lift it as soon as we can, and once the new highly trusted sponsor system for colleges and other educational establishments across the UK is in place.”

Visas for students from north India were suspended on February 1, worrying students, their families and British varsities who depend on high fee-paying international students for a substantial part of their revenue.

According to official figures, the direct value of students from India and other non-European Union countries to the UK economy is estimated at £8.5 billion annually.

British home secretary Alan Johnson said bogus students would find it difficult to gain entry and work in Britain illegally.

But he added today genuine students would continue to be welcome.

The new regulations would ensure that students studying below degree level have a limited ability to work in the UK and that their dependants cannot work here at all.

It will be even harder for illegal students, whose only aim is to work in the UK, to come into the country, Johnson said.

Johnson today announced several changes that are part of a radical overhaul of the student system, which began last year. Since March 2009, the government has said all foreign students should be sponsored by a college licensed by the UK Border Agency and demonstrate that they can support themselves once they get here before being granted a visa.

“We want foreign students to come here to study, not to work illegally, and today we have set out necessary steps which will maintain the robustness of the system we introduced last year. I make no apologies for that,” Johnson said.