More curbs on UK student visas come into effect



London: As part efforts to curb abuse of student visas, new restrictions announced by the David Cameron government on working while studying and bringing students' dependent to the UK have come into effect.

Home Office research shows that the student visa route is often abused by people from India and other countries from outside the European Union for entry into the country for work rather than studies.

The new restrictions came into effect on July 4.

More restrictions are scheduled to come into effect from April 2012, including the closure of the post-study work visa, which currently enables non-EU students to take up work for two years after completing studies in a UK university.

The new rules include restrictions on work entitlements to migrants studying at higher educational institutions and publicly funded further education colleges only.

So far, even those studying at private intuitions were entitled to work.

Immigration minister Damian Green said, "(The) student visa system isn't up to scratch - it has failed to control immigration, failed to select the brightest and best and failed to protect legitimate students. The primary motivation of too many users of the student immigration system is not to receive a high-quality education but to live and work here instead".

"And too many of the institutions that have managed to obtain a sponsor license under Tier 4 are essentially providing an immigration service, not an educational one. We have endless examples of institutions and so-called students working the system to get around changes made to try and reduce the levels of abuse," Green said.

The Home Office, he said, had encountered students barely able to hold a conversation in English turning up to 'study' degree-level courses.

The new rules also restrict the sponsorship of dependants to those studying at postgraduate level at higher education institutions on courses lasting at least 12 months, and government-sponsored students on courses lasting at least 6 months; Henceforth, student applicants will have to ensure that maintenance funds are genuinely available to the applicant, by introducing a declaration on the visa application form.

A Home Office spokesperson said that the changes were aimed at delivering a strong migration system which tackled immigration abuse while allowing genuine students to study at genuine colleges.

PTI