UK suspends accepting student visa applications in N-India

Last Updated: Saturday, January 30, 2010 - 18:29

New Delhi: Facing an unprecedented increase
in the number of student visa-seekers from north India,
Britain has temporarily suspended accepting such applications
as it suspects that there may be attempts to abuse the system.

The UK Border Agency, which enforces immigration and
customs regulations and considers applications for permission
to enter or stay in Britain, today announced the suspension in
taking visa applications at its centers in New Delhi,
Chandigarh and Jalandhar from Monday.
"We took this decision in response to unexpectedly high
numbers of student visa applications in these areas at this
time of year. The temporary suspension will allow the UK
Border Agency to continue to scrutinise applications
thoroughly and to manage the visa process efficiently for all
our customers in north India," Deputy High Commissioner Nigel
Casey said.

These three centers had received nearly 1000 student visa
applications from October to December 2007. This number
increased to 1,800 in the same period in 2008 while the number
climbed to 13,500 in the corresponding period last year.

"Some applicants are trying to abuse the visa procedure
to get entry into UK for purpose other than studies. We cannot
allow this to happen," UK Border Agency`s Regional Director
Chris Dix said.

Asked what kind of abuse the authorities have come
across, Dix said probably certain education agents in north
India were misleading the students by telling them that they
can get entry to the UK for other purposes by using the
student visa route.
"We want to ensure that student visa system attracts
bona fide students," he said.

The suspension may continue till the last week of
February, Casey said. During this period, the visa centers
will not accept applications from customers. However, visa
application centers in west and south India will continue
their operations as usual.

During this period, the UK Border Agency will undertake
thorough scrutiny of the applications to ensure that the
applicants are bona fide students and they have the financial
backing to continue their studies in Britain.

The authorities will also ensure that the education
providers in the UK are following rules.

The rise in number of applications has affected the
customer service also, Casey said.

Asked the reason for such unprecedented increase in visa
applications, Casey said education in the UK is more preferred
by the Indian students. The decline in number of student visa
applications to a few other countries could have contributed
to the rise, he said.

Incidentally, the number of student visa applicants for
Australia has come down this year, apparently due to the
attacks on Indians there.

The British High Commission has taken up the issue of
rise in number of student visa application with the Home
Ministry and Ministry of HRD, Dix said.

The temporary suspension will be reviewed in one month`s
time, he said. Dix said about 50,000 students were given visa
last year.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, January 30, 2010 - 18:29

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