New immigration measures to crack down on student visas

Recent changes in the field of immigration law have caused a stir within the legal community.

Back Of Graduates During Commencement The Immigration Act 204 (IA) has created a tougher regime for university and college sponsors who welcome international students to study in the UK.

These institutions can apply for Highly Trusted Sponsor status (HTS). Before the Act, this was awarded if the Home Office had to reject only 20% (or less) of student applications due to finding them unsuitable for the scheme. HTS is proof that the provider is compliant as a sponsor, and that the students are meeting the Home Office’s visa requirements.

Those that have had a sponsor licence for 12 months must apply for HTS status, and the UK Visas and Immigration Office will revoke any licence that fails to meet the status's requirements. 

But from November 2014 the current 20% target will be cut down to 10%. If the Home Office rejects a greater proportion, institutions could lose their HTS status and their licence to enrol students from abroad. The IA gives a college or university a three-month grace period to take a second look at their admissions policy and find room for improvement. The change has been made to ensure that all will adhere to immigration rules when enjoying the benefit of enrolling international students.

Home Secretary Theresa May MP has suggested the new rules will help to uphold the UK’s immigration system:

“We will always act when we see abuse of our immigration system. And that is why we are tightening the rules to cut out abuse in the student visa system.”

Other measures which came into force under the IA include enhanced duties for registrars to report suspected sham marriages and civil partnerships, new powers to strip illegal immigrants of their driving licences and new powers to simplify the recovery of illegal working penalties.

“The Immigration Act is a landmark piece of legislation that will make Britain a less attractive place for those who come here for the wrong reasons, and will allow us to remove more people when they have no right to remain,” May stated. “These reforms are helping to deliver what we have always promised — to build an immigration system that truly works in the national interest.”

For now, colleges and universities have time to crack down on their admissions procedures and make changes where necessary. But if some do not make the grade by November, we may see a drop in the number of overseas students here in the UK. 

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