New Academic Year: UK Introduces Flexibility in Visa Procedures for International Students

In order to facilitate visa procedures for incoming international students, the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) together with its visa services partner VFS Global, which is an outsourcing and technology services company that serves diplomatic missions and governments globally, have recently announced flexibility in visa rules.

This flexibility means that students will be allowed to apply for a visa once they are ready to travel to the United Kingdom, and do not have to wait until they begin their studies, Erudera College News reports.

Moreover, flexibility introduced by UKVI includes health precautions throughout the visa process, in order to contribute to a safer and comfortable environment for all customers, especially international students arriving in the UK.

The protective measures have been established by VFS Global across all UK Visa Application Centres. These centres are applying an obligatory appointment system, checking all customers’ body temperature at the entrance as well as respecting the distance maintaining measure.

Regarding this issue, Vinay Malhotra, Regional Group Chief Operating Officer, South Asia, Middle East and North Africa and Americas, VFS said that they are trying to ensure a safer visa process to students who will be applying for a visa to the UK for higher education.

Meanwhile, the Regional Director for UK Visas and Immigration, South and South East Asia, David Ratcliffe said:

“For those travellers, our message is clear: your safety is our highest priority. Throughout the visa application process and your travel to the UK, we are taking measures to ensure you are safe and secure. In addition, the new Graduate Route is guaranteed to open next summer – meaning those students heading to the UK this autumn will be able to apply for 2 years additional post-study leave to kick start their career in the UK.”

No Visa Needed, Students Can Begin Studies Remotely

Travel restrictions imposed in the UK and across the world due to the Coronavirus outbreak have, among others, affected the education sector as well. Hence, in order to prevent any possible interruption caused by Coronavirus, students can begin their studies remotely.

Students can then apply for a study Tier 4 visa at the moment when they are ready to travel to the UK and do not have to wait until they start their studies. In other words, students who have already been admitted to any programme in one of the UK’s universities are allowed to apply for a UK study visa once they are ready to do it.

As of June 6, 2020, UK Visa Application Centres have step by step reopened in the following cities in India: Ahmedabad, Pune, Chandigarh, Chennai, Jalandhar, Kochi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai (Mahalaxmi only), New Delhi (Shivaji Metro Stadium only), Bengaluru (Global Tech Park only).

Online Students Included in the Graduate Immigration Route Coming Into Force in 2021

According to the Graduate Immigration Route, in summer 2021, students who complete their undergraduate or Master’s degree are allowed to stay and work in the United Kingdom for up to two years, PhD students for three years.

The Graduate Immigration Route has now been modified and will also include students who begin their courses online, who will be able to apply for Graduate Route, proving they are in the UK before April 6, 2021, and complete their final semester of studies in the United Kingdom.

According to UKVI data, almost 18,500 student visas were granted in the year ending March 2020 to students coming from the following countries:

  • United Arab Emirates  – more than 900, 98 per cent of applications were approved
  • Kingdom of Saudi Arabia  – almost 9000, 98 per cent of applications were approved
  • Oman – almost 2000, 99 per cent of applications were approved
  • Kuwait  – more than 4000, 99 per cent of applications were approved
  • Bahrain  – almost 1,000, 99 per cent of applications were approved
  • Qatar  – almost 1,500, 99 per cent of applications were approved

According to data published by UKVI, 50,000 is the number of student visas to the United Kingdom issued to Indian students during the year ending March 2020, meaning there was an increase of 136 per cent, compared to the year ending March 2019. Whereas, 300,000 student visas were globally granted during the year ending March 2020.

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