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Theresa May's policy on visa doesn't really help Indian students

Last year, UK immigration minister James Brokenshire announced that students from outside the European Union who come to study at publicly-funded further education colleges in Britain will lose the right to work for up to 10 hours a week.

Photo: Reuters Photo: Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May during her first visit to India assured New Delhi of easy access for Indian business travelers. However, same won't apply for Indian students. In last few years UK has tightened its visa norms for Indian students.

May was speaking at the India-UK Tech Summit where she said that travel to UK for Indians would be made easy. "There would be a registered travel scheme for Indians to travel to Britain regularly," she said.

This is May's first bilateral visit to India since taking over as UK's Prime Minister. Addressing the summit, she also said that Britain should not wait until it leaves the European Union to develop deeper trade ties with India.

May's announcement on visa for business travelers could be a welcome move that may strengthen the trade ties between both the countries. However, UK's some latest changes in its Visa policy have dashed the hope of millions of Indian students aspiring to get the admission in UK-based universities.

According to the Independent, the number of Indian students attending British universities fell by 10 per cent over the last year in the wake of concerns about immigration. The number of Indians first-year enrollments at UK universities fell from 11,270 to 10,125.

"Critics have blamed the Government's immigration reforms for the drop in the number of foreign students over recent years. Previously non-EU students were allowed to remain in the UK after finishing their studies," British Daily reported.

Last year, UK immigration minister James Brokenshire announced that students from outside the European Union who come to study at publicly-funded further education (FE) colleges in Britain will lose the right to work for up to 10 hours a week. "Immigration offenders want to sell illegal access to the UK jobs market, and there are plenty of people willing to buy," Brokenshire had said.

It not only cut down the working hours but also reduced the term of the student visas issued for FE colleges from three to a maximum of two years after which they will have to leave the country.

Theresa May's views on immigration have been tough as she wants to bring down the number of non-EU citizens who can qualify to get education and work in the UK. And, she has already started the process.  

Earlier in the week, May announced changes to UK's visa policy for non-EU nationals that will curb its soaring immigration numbers. Under the new visa rules, anyone applying after November 24 under the Tier 2 intra-company transfer (ICT) category would be required to meet a minimum salary threshold of 30,000 pounds. Earlier the figure was 20,800 pounds. The ICT route is largely used by Indian IT companies in Britain.

The government move was in the backdrop of a study conducted by UK's Migration Advisory Committee that found that nearly 90 per cent of visas approved under the ICT route were issued to Indian IT workers.

Once the policy is in place, those who have been working here for six years on less than 30,000 pound can expect to have their visas revoked.

British Prime Minister offered more flexibility with visas for Indians. However, she also made it clear that visa relaxation will depend on the "speed and volume of the return of Indians with no right to remain in the UK."

During the joint press conference with her counter part, May also announced that the two countries had set up a strategic group which would work on visas.