Jalandhar: The temporary freeze announced by the UK on student visas from north India comes at a time when Punjabi newspapers have been flooded with advertisements seeking matrimonial alliances with Indian students studying in Britain, making no bones about the purpose — migrating there.
"An IELTS clear girl required for a 24-year-old boy. Only court marriage," reads an advertisement in the matrimonial section of a Punjabi language daily dated January 22. Another one says, "An IELTS 6 Band girl required for a boy to go to England/Canada or New Zealand. All expenditure (of going abroad even of the girl) by the boy. Only court marriage."
"Court marriage" is a euphemism for a just-on-paper marriage that enables the "spouse" to emigrate with the genuine student.
Earlier, these advertisements would appear only for Australia. The trend changed in the past few months after Australia made its visa rules stringent and UK announced relaxations. "Punjabi boys and girls want to move abroad to any country through any channel, legal or illegal. The paper marriages provide a twisted legal channel for immigration. After UK announced relaxation in norms for student visas, it came as a golden opportunity for those wanting to move abroad. This spoils the image of the state," said a prominent Jalandhar-based immigration consultant.
Such is the craze to settle abroad, said another consultant, that families would go to any extent to obtain a visa. "I came across an instance where a family showed marriage between two cousins so that two persons from the family could move to UK on one student visa," he said.
UK`s Border Agency put an embargo on student visa in north India after 13,500 applications were received between October and December, 2009. This was a massive jump from the 1,800 applications in the corresponding period in 2008.