Overseas students applying for a UK student visa could soon face interviews as part of their application process as the UK Border Agency (UKBA) attempts to stop bogus students entering the UK.
It is likely that up to 10,000 interviews could take place each year as part of the change and UKBA staff will have the power to refuse a visa solely on the basis of the interview if there are doubts about the genuineness of students. Failure to attend an interview could also see a student refused unless a reasonable explanation is given.
The changes to the application procedure of the UK student visa is largely in essence the government’s attempt to reduce overall net migration down in to the ‘tens of thousands’ as students make up about 70% of overall net migration in the UK. The change could however substantially damage the UK’s economy – overseas students bring some £8 billion into the UK through student visa schemes.
Damien Green, the UK immigration minister has regularly defended the inclusion of students in overall net migration figures even when Universities begged to differ. However, in light of many overseas students who will shun the UK as their preferred place of study, PM Mr. Cameron may ‘u-turn’ and consider the removal of students from overall net migration.
It is expected that 10-14,000 students (about 5%) will be interviewed following a pilot scheme that was run last year. In this test scheme over 2,000 students were interviewed with about 17% being refused as they did not have the adequate level of English language. Following a report it was stated that up to 32% could have been refused at the time as there were doubts over the credibility of the students – the highest level of doubt came from students coming from India, Pakistan, Burma, Nigeria, the Philippines and Bangladesh.
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With more interviews and greater powers to refuse bogus students we will weed out abuse and protect the UK from those looking to play the system.
He went on to say that the UK was open to genuine students but not those that chose to lie on their application forms and tried to make a mockery of the UK student visa route.