David Cameron has announced the creation of a same-day visa service for senior business executives, in an attempt to open up Britain to growing overseas economies, such as India.
This world first system – initially only open to chief executives and finance officers from major Indian companies – will mean enable businessmen to apply for a visa in the morning and pick it up in the afternoon, cutting out a three-day waiting period. Making the announcement on his trip to Mumbai, the British Prime Minister explained: “This is a fast-growing economy, it is going to be one of the stars of the future. We are introducing today a same-day visa service for business people who want to come to Britain.”
While Cameron also said that there would be no limit to the number of Indian students able to come to Britain, the number of Indians studying in the UK fell by 24% for the first time last year, with many blaming the reduction on new post-study visa laws. The laws, which see non-EU students having to qualify for employment on a points based system and find a job paying a minimum of £20,000, has made it more difficult for these students to remain, and work, in the UK.
…needs to make changes to ensure that the UK remains a popular choice for foreign students…
And it seems that these changes are making Britain less appealing to overseas students. Talking to the BBC, 21-year-old Indian fashion design student said that the new laws “make you feel unwelcome – that’s why I prefer the US.” Ajay Sukhwani, one of the director’s at Edwise, an overseas educational consultant believes that the governments needs to make changes to ensure that the UK remains a popular choice for foreign students: “The government needs to take steps which reassures international students and give them a reasonable window to work or intern along with getting a degree.”
But post-study visa complications are not the only UKBA related issues that are frustrating foreign students. Last July hundreds of overseas students applying to lengthen their stay in the UK following the completion of their courses were trapped in limbo due to visa delays. When sending in applications students are required to submit their passport, meaning they cannot leave the country. In the backlog and disruption last year, some students claimed to have been waiting up to five months without their passport, unable to work and unable to return home.
…student’s “basic rights” were being denied…
In response to an online petition, signed by over 600 people, and claiming that student’s “basic rights” were being denied by the delays, a UKBA spokesperson said: “Students should come to the UK to study not work. That is why this April we stopped the automatic right for students to stay on and find work after their studies.” However, many students study in the UK with the ambition of settling in the country and making a career for themselves.
While David Cameron’s new ‘same-day’ visa proposal is sure to appeal to those at the top of the career chain, it helps to highlight the disparities in the UKBA’s visa process. It seems only those with money and proven business success are being presented with easier and more opportunities to do business in the UK. However, students who have spent vast amounts of money and a number of years building a life in this country are being denied the opportunity to continue their lives here and establish a career while contributing to the UK economy.
…a valued income to the country will be severely diminished…
If Britain continues to make it increasingly difficult for foreign students work post-study, it may find a valued income to the country will be severely diminished.