Britain says no to student visa in North India

SHauKeeN GaBRu

Chardi Kala
Britain says no to student visa in North India

Facing an unprecedented increase in the number of student visa-seekers from north India, Britain has temporarily suspended accepting applications under Tier 4 of the Points Based System as it suspects that there may be attempts to abuse the system.

On Saturday, the UK Border Agency announced the suspension at its centres in New Delhi, Chandigarh and Jalandhar from Monday, February 1. The agency enforces immigration and customs regulations and considers applications for permission to enter or stay in Britain.

"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 centres 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 centres will not accept applications from customers. However, visa application centres 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.

Britain says no to student visa in North India