`Move hits paper marriages’
1st February 2010: A day after the UK Border Agency announced its decision against accepting any new students’ visa applications from 1 February 2010 at its centres in North India, Bangladesh and Nepal, media reports in India suggest the decision has left the aspirants “crying foul”.
The reports also suggest that the move has hit paper marriages.
The Times of Chandigarh has asserted that the students in North India are resenting the move on the ground that “it would unnecessary affect the genuine cases”.
The Times of India says the temporary visa freeze comes at a time when the Punjabi newspapers are flooded with advertisements seeking “fraudulent matrimonial alliances with Indian students studying in Britain for the purpose of migrating there”.
The decision was announced on 31st January 2010. The head of the points-based system at the UK Border Agency, Jeremy Oppenheim, said: ‘The points-based system gives us the flexibility to act to maintain the integrity of the visa system, while processing legitimate applications fairly, thoroughly and as quickly as possible.
‘We continually check and monitor all student applications and education providers to ensure that they meet the required standards set by the points-based system. As a result of this routine monitoring and an increase in applications, we have temporarily stopped accepting new applications from North India, Nepal and Bangladesh while we carry out an investigation to ensure they are all genuine.
‘We will take tough action against those who attempt to abuse the system.’
The Regional, Director of UK Border Agency, Chris Dix, said the High Commission would not accept any student visa application at its centre in New Delhi. Other north centres in cities such as Chandigarh and Jalandhar also will not admit any student application.
The dramatic increase in the number of student visa seekers had raised concern for the immigration authorities. Compared to the applicants in 2007 and 2008, the number was enormous this year.
The applicants were 13, 500 between October and December 2009, while the number was 1,800 in 2008 and 1000 in 2007. Dix elaborated that they would examine all applications to see if they were genuine and financially capable of pursuing education in Britain.
Dix attributed opportunities provided in the Britain to be a factor for the increase in applications. He added that this could be the reason for the dramatic drop in number of student seeking to go to Australia for studying.
Meanwhile, the officials said unscrupulous travel agents might be exploiting the students’ visa category due to huge demand in region to get visa to Britain. British Deputy High Commissioner Nigel Casey said a dramatic increase in applications, as well as concern about their quality was the prime reason behind then decision.