UK Student Visitor Visa working well

June 13, 2013

The Student Visitor Visa route is working well with very low levels of abuse, according to a report released recently by the UK Home Office.

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A statement from the Home Office said the Student Visitor Visa, used for study up to six months in duration for non–EU students, was attracting "high value, low–risk immigrants who contribute positively to economic growth". The study also found that most visitors stay for less than three months, and that over 80 per cent of students on this visa study at Tier 4 Highly Trusted Sponsors.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper welcomed the findings. "It is right that international students have the opportunity to take up short courses in our world-class colleges and universities, and this research shows how well the system is working, " he said.

The Student Visitors, Research Report took a sample of over 1,000 applications from visa nationals (nationals that require entry clearance) between June 2011 and May 2012, while a sample of 947 non-visa nationals (nationals that can apply for entry at the port) were interviewed at Heathrow Airport in November 2012.

Around two-thirds of visa nationals (64 per cent) and non-visa nationals (62 per cent) came for English language studies, with most others coming for exchange programmes — 85 per cent of students from the USA came for this reason.

Among the non-visa nationals that were successfully accepted, Brazilian students represented 34.5 per cent of the sample, followed by students from the USA (27 per cent), Japan (17.4) and Korea (7.2). The median length of stay among this sample was seven weeks, with only 23 per cent intending to stay more than 12 weeks. Of this visa group, 44.9 per cent were undertaking General English programmes, 26.2 per cent were due to take exchange programmes and 11.1 per cent were taking Intensive English.

Of the visa national sample, Russians accounted for 19.1 per cent of successful applicants, followed by Chinese (15.6), Turkish (12.8), Saudi (9.5) and Indian (6.6). General English was the most common course of study at 44.9 per cent, followed by Intensive English at 11.4 per cent. The average length of stay was just over four weeks. Twenty–three per cent of applicants already in employment in their home country were teachers.

The study found that 82 per cent of non–visa nationals and 80 per cent of visa nationals were due to attend courses at Highly Trusted Sponsor institutions, although this is not a requirement of the Student Visitor Visa.

The report also looked at 304 unsuccessful applications from visa nationals. Turkey represented 15.1 per cent of these, with other nationalities including Chinese, Indian, Nigerian and Russian.

Unsuccessful applicants were twice as likely as successful applicants to be unemployed — 17 per cent compared with seven per cent. The unsuccessful applicants that were employed had a lower median net monthly income, UKú610 (US$954) than successful applicants, UKú1,000 (US$1,564). Insufficient documentation was the most commonly cited reason for refusal, given in 50.4 per cent of cases.

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