Points-based student visa system is the “biggest single loophole”, says Immigration Minister

Annual cap on the number of skilled professionals immigrating likely

London: Britain's new Immigration Minister Damian Green has indicated that students from India and other non-European Union countries will have to furnish a bond of a specified amount before coming here to study at British institutions.

Mr. Green, who was the Conservative spokesman on immigration issues, believes that the current points-based student visa system is the “biggest single loophole” and has promised to bring about major changes in the immigration system.

British authorities had suspended the issue of student visas in north India, Nepal and Bangladesh earlier this year after missions received an unusually large number of applications from these regions.

“We want genuine students and want a fair system. We will introduce the bond system for international students who will be refunded the bond amount when they leave after completing their studies,” Mr. Green had told an audience at the Guru Nanak Prakash Singh Sabha in Bristol recently.

International students are a source of major revenue because they pay fees three times higher than what students from the U.K. and the European Union pay.

Among other new measures Mr. Green is likely to introduce is an annual cap on the number of skilled professionals from India and other countries outside the EU in order to drastically reduce the annual number migrants coming to Britain.

As per the coalition agreement between the Conservative and Liberal Democrats, it is the Conservative policy that has been adopted by the new coalition government.

The coalition agreement says: “We have agreed that there should be an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants admitted into the U.K. to live and work. We will consider jointly the mechanism for implementing the limit.”

The overall goal of the Conservative party's policy is to reduce net immigration to the levels of the 1990s — “tens of thousands a year, instead of the hundreds of thousands every year under the Labour government.”

Mr. Green said: “There are benefits of immigration but not of uncontrolled immigration. There is concern about immigration within the migrant community that have integrated well in British society over the years. We will ensure that immigration returns to the level of 1980s and 1990s”.

The proposed annual cap, however, is expected to be opposed by campaign groups who believe that any such measure will ultimately affect British trade and industry and the economy.

Amit Kapadia, director of HSMP Forum, told PTI: “Any such cap will affect Indian professionals because most non-European Union migrants to the U.K. come from India. But we will oppose and lobby against any illogical number or cap that the government may seek to impose”. —PTI