Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

UK Excludes Indians From Relaxed Student Visa Rules

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The UK government’s decision to omit India from the list of countries that would benefit from the relaxation of the Tier 4 visa rules for overseas students is drawing criticism from Indians. The list, announced on June 15, includes 25 countries.

While nations such as the United States, Canada and New Zealand were already a part of the list, the UK Home Office has now added other countries like China, Bahrain and Serbia in the category that enables students to face less checks on educational, financial and English language skill requirements to pursue higher education in the United Kingdom, the Hindu reported. The new countries added to the list have been considered low risk places.

“I consider this another kick in the teeth for India. This sends entirely the wrong message to India, to exclude it from these Tier 4 measures. The government has simply got it wrong,” Lord Karan Bilimoria, Indian-origin businessman and president of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), was quoted as saying by PTI.

The National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK said that exclusion of Indian students from the list shows that they are being categorized as high risk.

“It is important to note that today’s announcement makes no change to the process of application for Indian students, but it is the perception of this message among Indian students that worries us. And, this raises another question — will China continue to get even more favorable actions while India gets the rhetoric,” Sanam Arora, president of NISAU UK, said, as per the news agency.

The number of Indian students applying for admission to universities in the United Kingdom showed an increase in 2018. The number of applications from India received from autumn 2017 to January 2018 was 36 per cent higher than that in the corresponding period a year ago, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), UK’s centralized university application system. As many as 4,470 Indian students applied for undergraduate courses from autumn 2017 till January 2018.

The Tier 4 (General) student visa is offered to students who wish to study in the United Kingdom and are from a country that is not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

The changes, which will come into effect from July 6, are aimed at making it easier for international students to study in the United Kingdom. Students of the countries included in the list will be allowed to provide reduced level of documentation for student visas.

“This change demonstrates the continued focus on improving the UK’s offer to international students,” Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said in a statement to the House of Commons.

The non-inclusion of Indian students in the list adds to the developing strain in bilateral relations between the two nations. A memorandum of understanding to facilitate return of illegal Indian immigrants from the United Kingdom was earlier left unsigned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.