Britain plugs visa loopholes on students
Sun, Feb 28, 2010
The Star/Asia News Network

KUALA LUMPUR: Britain is plugging loopholes in its rigorous points-based student visa system to prevent abuse by those intending to enter and work.

Tougher rules will be enforced from Wednesday on clauses governing English Language ability, the period a student is permitted to work and on entry of dependants.

Fees for international student visas are also being increased from 145 pounds (S$313) to 199 pounds (S$430).

Britain introduced its points-based visa system last March to prevent the entry of bogus students and to crack down on illegitimate institutions operating there.

The changes involving Tier 4 (student visa) are:

> A MINIMUM English Language requirement equivalent to B1 under CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) or a score of 4.5 under IELTS (International English Language Testing System) for students pursuing courses below degree level (excluding foundation degree courses);

> HALVING the amount of time a student pursuing below first degree-level course (except for foundation degree course) can work to 10 hours during term time;

> RESTRICTING lowest-level courses (A-levels and equivalent) to only "most trusted institutions" and

> BANNING dependants of students pursuing non-foundation or below undergraduate degree courses from working.

British High Commissioner to Malaysia Boyd McCleary said he expected the latest changes to have "minimal impact" on Malaysia, saying that the measures were introduced following abuses by students in other countries.

"Malaysia is not the country we are targeting as you have been sending us good students.

"We approved 98% of your student visa applications because they followed the guidelines," he told The Star.

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