UK student visas set for shake-up

07 Dec 2010 | Posted by Carl Thomas

UK visas for students will be subject to a number of changes, according to UK immigration minister Damian Green.

Mr Green claimed that the country needs to be "more selective" when choosing who can come to the country to study and how long they can stay on a UK visa.

To this end, he today (December 7th) proposed the introduction of rules to force students to show evidence of academic progression before allowing their UK student visa to be extended, in addition to limits on foreign students' entitlement to work and their ability to bring in dependants. A tougher English language requirement is also to be introduced.

Last month, the immigration minister confirmed that people applying for UK spouse visas will need to pass a basic English test before being allowed into the country.

The exam, in which the applicant must demonstrate a command of English equivalent to that of a six-year-old, is expected to affect around 40,000 people looking to move to the UK from outside of the EU economic area.

The UK tier 4 student visa proposals come as the Home Office has launched a public consultation on the reform of the Points Based System for student entry to the UK after revealing that 41 per cent of students entering the country through this route were studying courses which are below degree level.

Mr Green commented: "Today's proposals follow a major review of the system, and are aimed at a more selective system and, crucially, reducing the numbers to meet our target of reducing net migration to sustainable levels."

The Office for National Statistics recently published figures demonstrating that the majority of immigrants to the UK are propelled to enter the country for education.

Indeed, two-thirds of migrants entering the UK each year do so through the student route, the Home Office reported, noting that this is why "it is a key focus for reform".