Indian and other non-EU students at British colleges (not universities) will be banned from working during the period of their courses from August as part of a new crackdown on student visa fraud.
A Home Office spokesperson told HT on Monday that working rights of non-EU students at further education colleges were being removed to ensure that they did not use them as a “back door to the country’s job market”.
The new rules will not apply to universities, but only to further education colleges that deliver mainly vocational courses or courses that prepare students for a university course. Currently, such students are allowed to work up to 10 hours per week.
The Home Office has removed sponsorship licences from more than 870 bogus colleges since 2010 as part of efforts to root out abuse of the immigration system. Indians have been among the largest groups of non-EU students at such colleges.
The Home Office said that rules were being tightened after officials detected early signs of increased fraud at some publicly-funded colleges and discovered immigration advisers advertising college visas as a means to work in the UK.
“The new rules will be introduced in Parliament this week. Work rights restrictions will be enforced from August, with the other changes to be implemented in the autumn. They do not apply to universities”, the spokesperson said.
As well as stripping students of their right to work, the new rules will cut further education visas to a maximum of two years – down from three previously; prevent college students applying for work visas unless they leave the country first; and prevent further education students extending their studies in the UK unless they are registered at an institution with a formal link to a university.
Immigration minister James Brokenshire said: “Immigration offenders want to sell illegal access to the UK jobs market – and there are plenty of people willing to buy. Our reforms – which include introducing English language testing, removing sponsorship rights from hundreds of bogus colleges, and restricting students’ access to the jobs market – are all of our plan to control immigration for the benefit of Britain”.
He added: “These changes will further protect the UK’s reputation for educational excellence and stop immigration cheats abusing publicly-funded colleges.”