The United Kingdom has excluded India from a list of countries it calls “low-risk” to facilitate smoother student visa applications. The list, which already had Australia, the United States, Canada and New Zealand, now includes China, Bahrain and Serbia.
The UK Home Office tabled the revised immigration policy in Parliament on Friday. It will come into effect on July 6. The changes aim to make it easier for students to come to the UK, reported The Times. Applicants from the listed countries are not required to show proof for educational, financial and English skill requirements.
The new countries on the list include Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Kuwait, Macau and the Maldives. As India is not part of the new list, Indian students will continue to face rigorous checks and documentary requirements.
“We welcome Indian students who want to come to the UK to study at our world-leading educational institutions,” A UK Home Office spokesperson said, according to PTI. “We issue more visas to students from India than any other country except China and the USA.” As many as 90% of Indian applicants for a UK student visa get one, the Home Office said.
Lord Karan Bilimoria, head of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, described the move as an “insult” to India and an example of the UK’s “economically illiterate and hostile attitude to immigration”. “I consider this another kick in the teeth for India,” he told PTI. “It is completely hypocritical that this is announced at the same time that Britain is talking about doing a post-Brexit free trade agreement with India.”
The National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK said it was unfair that Indian students should be treated differently from the Chinese or those from other countries on the list.
“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,” Sanam Arora, president of NISAU UK, told PTI.
Over 95,000 general students and 4,800 child students were given such visas between April 2017 and March 2018, according to The Times. The number of Tier 4 visas given to Indian students rose 30% to reach 15,171 in 2017.