The UK Immigration Service, now known as “UK Borders Agency” has suspended the applications process for student visas from northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh after a dramatic upsurge in numbers and allegations of fraud.
The suspension will remain in place for at least one month while a backlog of applications is processed – but that period will be extended if necessary. During that time, applications will become subject to much greater scrutiny.
The problem appears to originate in the UK’s adoption of a points-based system which grants visas to anyone who can prove they have taken a place at a UK educational establishment.
There are several hundred universities and recognised places of higher education but they are not, it appears, what is fuelling a boom which has seen applications – and grants – soar by more than six and a half times in the past year.
The Borders Agency has noticed a problem that has existed for years, but has usually been used by Eastern Europeans and Africans in relatively small numbers: small tuition businesses that take on foreign students are commonplace, particularly language schools.