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Border and Immigration Minister says new student visa system is an improvement | Immigration Matters

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Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has defended the government’s new points based visa system for foreign students against claims it is easy to abuse, the BBC reports.

Border Agency staff claim they have little power to challenge suspected cases of abuse under the new rules.

Mr Woolas told the BBC the system was a “huge improvement on the past.”

The UK refused alleged bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab a student visa earlier this year. He has been charged with attempting to bomb a US airliner.

The government began rolling out its points-based system for prospective migrants from outside the EU in February 2008.

To qualify for a visa, non-EU students have to show a letter of acceptance from sponsors (either an accredited college or university) earning 30 points.

The remaining 10 points needed are earned by their proving they have the means to pay course fees and expenses.

Border Agency staff have told the BBC this largely paper-based process is open to abuse.

However Mr Woolas rejected the claims.

“There will always be examples of people who try to play the system,” he told The Report on BBC Radio 4.

But he added: “I’m not denying that there aren’t problems but what I would say is that this system is a huge improvement on the past.”

Around a dozen Border Agency staff have contacted the BBC in the past two months to complain about the new rules for student visas.

The alleged air bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab applied for a visa to return to the UK following the completion of his three year degree in 2008.

But the Nigerian student was refused entry to the UK earlier this year after applying to study on a bogus course.

He has been charged with attempting to bomb a plane as it came in to land at the American city of Detroit on 25 December.

Nevertheless the whistle-blowers who contacted the BBC claim they are virtually powerless to challenge suspected cases of immigration abuse once a non-EU national arrives at a UK port because all checks are carried out overseas.

One entry clearance officer (who did not wish to be named) told the BBC that in his last posting in India he never met an applicant face to face in six months.

“I never spoke to anybody and the important thing was to make a decision.

“Most of the colleagues I was working with, I know they never did because they have similar misgivings to myself.”

He claimed a culture of targets meant there was pressure to grant visas and he alleged the new visa rules had led to an increase in applications.

The officer said he had seen lots of students who were refused under the previous rules gain entrance to the UK.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the think tank Migration Watch, himself a former diplomat and a critic of the changes, said previously applicants had to satisfy an immigration officer they were genuine.

“Now it just goes through a system because it’s paper based, tick the boxes, produce the documents in you go,” he added.

But Mr Woolas told the BBC, “The number of people who say that migration controls are too tough, far outweighs the opposite accusation.”

The Report is on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday, 31 December 2009, at 2000 GMT. You can also listen via the BBC iPlayer after broadcast or download the podcast. Source: BBC.

Related articles:

Terror plot bomber was a former UK student visa holder

Immigration Matters 2009 round up

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13 Responses to “Border and Immigration Minister says new student visa system is an improvement”
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  1. GOOD day!I just want to make a querry reagrding my friends status. She made a visa apllication extension under tier 4 adult last November 2009, had received a confirmation letter the following day after lodging the application from UKBA. However, she was so worried because she unintentionally signed the payment check for the application and until now, she haven’t receive any letter yet,though she was very much smart to make inquiery in UKBA office,it will jeopardise their notice which was stated in the confirmation letter that she can not make any kind of inquiries until she was notified and received further correspondence from them. One thing more, the sponsored college was also suspended just last January 2010.The question is…will the unsigned payment check would greatly affect her application considering that the application had made last November,2009, they(UKBA) must have been discovered or made a follow-up letter for the revision of the unsigned payment check for the application before her college/school had been suspended. Thank you very much for accomodating everybody’s queries and looking forward for any help/advise you could extend unto this matter. More Power and GOD bless!

  2. […] Border and Immigration Minister says new student visa system is an improvement […]

  3. sharanjit says :

    hi sir.
    i would like to ask u one thing if its possible.my brother has applied for a student visa to do nvq in hospitality.he applied on 14th dec. 2008.he got 6 band in ielts test.is there any possibility to get a visa or not bcause of new changes.
    thanks

  4. […] Border and Immigration Minister says new student visa system is an improvement […]

  5. Chase up the college. You can also check the Tier 4 regsister.

  6. Students are allowed to transfer colleges, but you need to inform the UKBA and make sure the new college is on the Tier 4 register. See:
    Make sure your college is on the Tier 4 Sponsors Register before renewing your visa

  7. hello sir I’am already a student here in UK. I just wanted to know is there a possibility for me to transfer in other school because the location is very far from my resident. I’am not under the tier 4 point based system. your response are very much appreciated. Thanks.

  8. hi,
    thank you for the info you sent a few minutes ago. i will read it intensely but the title/issue is so clear about changes for issuing tier 4 visa. this is making me so worried.
    we were able to lodge at VSF makati last month, but because there was a problem with the license number written in our visa letter, all of us were denied. now, we are waiting for the “correction”, our agency told us. no definite info or promise as to our status to date. what is our chance of leaving soon?

  9. MARISA BANGKIYOD says :

    I STILL APPRECIATE THE CURRENT PBS OF STUDENT VISA BECAUSE IT IS FAIR AND DOES NOT USE THE OVER-ABUSED DISCRETION OF THE VISA OFFICER DURING THE FORMER SYSTEM. THIS SYSTEM SHOULD BE RETAINED AND BE IMPROVED.

  10. […] Border and Immigration Minister says new student visa system is an improvement […]

  11. DR MASIMBA MAVAZA says :

    THE POINTS BASED SYSTEM IS A TICK THE BOX REGIME WHICH MAKES IT DIFFICULT FOR DISCRETION. IT IS HIGHLY UNFAIR AND SELF DISTRUCTIVE AND VINDICTIVE A WAY TO AVOID THE PROCESS OF APPEAL. STUDENT VISA’S SHOULD NOT BE BASED ON POINTS .

  12. However, despite all the critics about new PBS, I still think that it is a good system for the genuine student who would like to pursue their higher education in the UK with the publicly funded universities and colleges.

    The demise of the Australian education market due to DIAC’s new togh rules, I think UK education providers will have the opportunity to target the quality market.

    Thanks to UKBA

  13. salam My Dear Sir. My name is Abdul Rasheed Ahmadzai from paktia afghanistan i wamt to study there . how can i do it .

    Thanks

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