“We have temporarily stopped accepting new applications from North India, Nepal and Bangladesh while we carry out an investigation to ensure they are all genuine,” said Jeremy Oppenheim, of the UKBA. “We will take tough action against those who attempt to abuse the system.”
The suspension of the applications follows revelations in The Times last year that that tens of thousands of foreign nationals have been living in Britain for years under the false cover given by hundreds of bogus colleges in London, Bradford and Manchester. In response, the Home Office announced it was holding a review of student visas by the Home Office and Department for Business to consider raising the minimum level of course for which foreign students can get a visa.
Sir Richard Stagg, the British High Commissioner in Delhi, emphasised that the suspension of applications was not aimed at legitimate students from India. “This temporary measure is designed to protect genuine students, professional agents and good education providers from anyone who is not currently playing by the rules,” he said. “I am confident that a normal visa service will be resumed in good time for students who want to study in the UK in the next academic year.”
Those who have already made appointments at visa applications centres in North India will have those meetings suspended. While visa centres elsewhere in India will continue to accept applications, they will require appointments with each applicant starting from today, potentially slowing down the process.