Trying to emigrate to the UK? Student visas might not be the answer any more…

Posted on September 6, 2010 by yankeebean

» Student immigration levels unsustainable – BBC News

According to immigration minister, Damien Green, the current UK immigration system is ‘largely out of control’.

Translate: Getting in to the UK might be about to get harder. AGAIN.

The article focuses mostly on student visas and throws around some craaaaazy statistics.  For example:

  • In 2004, 21% of students were still in the UK 5 years on
  • In 2009, net migration increased by 33,000
  • In 2009 the number of student visas issued went up by 35%

Also interestingly – Sally Hunt (General secretary of the University and College Union) was quoted as saying,

“Damian Green is making his speech today after returning from a trip to India where he encouraged students to come to the UK.”

Looks like dandy D. Green is a little turned around :) .  I have my opinions about immigration just like the next Shamerican, but this blog isn’t about you guys having to put up with my policital ranting.

Nope, it’s about being an EXPAT, and this article makes my stomach a little quesy.  Why?  Because in 2004, I walked into the UK because of my student visa.  And in 2010 I’m still here…

I’m hitched with my tent pitched now, so I’m not worried about me getting the boot.  But my heart squeezes for anyone looking for their red-tape-loop-hole right now.  Googling ideas non stop and stressing about it every time it floats to the front of their mind.

I’ve been there… I’ve been RIGHT there.  Wondering how I was going to get in.  And once I was in, wondering how in the Bo-Jangles I was going to stay.

What do you lovely ladies think?  Is anyone out there filling out the student paperwork even as we speak?  And what I’m really interested in knowing is – How many of you got in to the UK on a student visa like I did?

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Beckstar September 23, 2010 at 11:06 am

    I’ve been in the UK since 2002, and I also initially came on a student visa to do my MA. How many years, how many new visas and a PhD later and I’m still here, working in a uni and cringing every time I hear the government complaining about the number of international students (who are paying the fees that are keeping the university going and therefore providing me with cash). Anyway, the first time I turned up at the great gates of Heathrow immigration, all I needed was a letter from the university saying I’d been accepted onto a course and a copy of a promissory note for my student loan, and a visa was stamped into my passport on the spot right then and there. 6 years later when I went to extend my (newer) student visa I thought I was going to have to promise my first born child to UK Border Control in order to stay an extra 6 months so I could finish my PhD. And then when that was all over and done with….don’t get me started. Yes, I’m here legally (spousal/partner visa). Yes I’m planning on staying. Yes I’m saving my pennies for the astronomical fees AND 3 months worth of an arbitrary amount of money in my bank account for when my current visa expires and I’ll finally be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Yes I’m crossing my fingers that the rules don’t change, again, as I’m finally starting to begin to wrap my head around the maze of rules.

    For the person above asking about funding studies – I did federal student loans all the way throughout. You can no longer do the “I’m getting the loan to pay for it all, but I just haven’t received it yet” route that many of us went through. You actually have to have the cash on hand (or in your account) when you apply for the visa to study in this blessed country. Get the loans, follow the immigration rules BY THE BOOK, and if in doubt, contact the international office at your university for help. They are well versed in the ins and outs of the immigration system and student visas and they can offer you invaluable advice. But don’t think you can get away with taking shortcuts – it’ll cost you loads of time, headaches, money and tears. Play by the rules and cross your fingers that they don’t change it all again next week.

  2. Nogo September 17, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I went to the UK for the first time on a student visa 8 years ago. I’m actually up now waiting for the postman for my new student visa. I love the UK. :)

  3. DM September 12, 2010 at 2:05 am

    I just moved to London from NYC with a work visa. Apparently, international companies doing in-house transfers between offices have a bit of an easier time securing visas. My partner and I were told that if we decide to stay in the UK for five years, we can apply for (though not necessarily receive) dual citizenship.

    The rules and restrictions seem deliberately vague to me. To be fair though, I went to look at the criteria for entering the US, and it doesn’t seem any better. I’m not sure what there is to be gained from the confusion, other than the right to refuse anyone who applies without much danger of recourse.

  4. Paul September 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    The current problems with student visas are the number of people claiming to be studying in fictious colleges, for the last 10 years there has been a massive increase in people opening ‘colleges’ for £100 a person can register a new education company and for a further fee can get it accedited as an education establishment, this establisments will then charge people a fee and in return send all the paperwork to the ‘student’ showing this person is now a full time student in the UK, with this documentation the person gains a student visa, the problem is this education establishments are little better than criminal fronts, many are little more than a flat above a shop in a high street, the ‘students’ never have to go to lessons (as there are none) and instead simply disappear into the system, (the college will continue to fill in paperwork showing the student is attending)
    What the new proposals intend to do is strip all these little ‘colleges’ of their ability to sponsor international students.
    As such it is unlikely to impact on Americans wishing to study in the UK, as normally Americans do actually go to well known and long established Colleges and Uni’s, the numbers of Americans paying large sums to attend such presigous schools as the ‘The Croydon International School of Business Studies (est 2009)’ is going to be pretty low

  5. Kneazle1 September 8, 2010 at 9:25 am

    The article seems almost deliberately vague on certain points but the reporter may not have all the facts, the government may be playing it’s cards close to it’s chest on this one as it can be an incendiary topic.

    It makes me rather sad as someone who works in a University which prides itself on it internationalisation agenda. Yes international students bring in more revenue, mercenary point but necessary, but what they give back is priceless. The opportunity for not only them to experience a different culture but for the rest of the student body to experience the international students take on life, they bring new ideas, ways of doing things and combining their knowledge and skills with those who have been brought up in this country is a very important benefit on so many levels. It forges friendship, global links and networking and can benefit the global economy not just that of the seperate countries involved.

    As NFAH pointed out it has also become harder for us to recruit international staff members and this makes me sad too, imagine that wealth of experience and knowledge we currently have from international staff members drying up. It’s bad news all round.

    Unfortunately its the few that ruin it for the majority, those that come in on student visas and never attend a lecture because they’ve used it as an easy means to get into the country to work. Dodgy colleges and schools set up to enable this to happen who take extra revenue from these ‘students’ and then move on. Attendance is monitored and discrepancies are reported from legitimate colleges etc.

  6. Yorkist J September 7, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    We came here on a student visa (my wife’s, specifically). That was three years ago. We almost didn’t get to stay when that expired, but we managed to just squeak by in getting a post-study work permit. That will expire in February, though, and we won’t qualify for any other type. It makes me sad that we’ll have to go back, but we intend to try again once we’re a bit more financially secure. But yes, I too agree that they’re making the requirements too hard, and for probably all the wrong reasons.

  7. Rachel September 7, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    I am soooo frustrated by this news. In April 2009, they changed the Tier 1 laws requiring a Masters-level degree for entry. (Don’t worry– they changed it back.) So basically, you had to prove you were (a) making over $80,000 a year AND (b) have a masters. When it comes to the economy, why on earth does the Masters make a difference? $80,000/year means a lot of tax revenue the UK can collect.

    Fast forward to how I actually got in — well I came here to do a 1 year Masters. I have the opportunity to stay for 2 years after getting my degree (paying taxes the whole time), and plan on doing just that. That is — unless they bring in the latest round of proposed regulations regarding having to get certain marks on your degree. There has even been discussion to only allow people to stay who get “distinction” marks — which from what I’ve seen — is no easy task on a Masters course. In our class of 48, only 2 of us are on par. Let me just tell you how gutted I’ll be if I have finished this TOUGH year of courses to only be told that they’ve “changed the rules again mid-stream” and I can’t stay on.

    The most frustrating?!? I want to know how many of these “students who stayed for 5 years” are bringing home the bacon for England.

  8. Brianna September 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I just applied for and received (!!!!) my student Visa. It is actually my second student visa for the UK. And this past time was a lot more difficult than the first. Before you can even begin to apply, your university has to supply each student needing a Visa with something called a CAS number, Confirmation of Acceptance for Study. Basically a document saying you have been accepted in a program at that particular university. Once you have your number you can finally start applying. The student visa is a points-based system. I can’t remember off the top of my head exactly how many points are required for visa approval. Points are awarded for sponsorship and proof on funds. (The required funding for London’s inner boroughs are higher than the rest of the UK).

    Overall though, my Visa was approved fairly quickly (only three weeks during the busy time of year) and the process wasn’t too painful. Just more of a hassle than the first time around.

    Hope this makes sense… Love your blog by the way.

  9. Angel ♥ Dazzle Me September 7, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    To me this article doesn’t seem to make sense either- am I wrong to assume that at least some percentage of people going over there on ANY visa (no matter nationality) are going because they want to LIVE there?! Or perhaps they meet someone and fall in love, or fall in love with their new home… I would not find it at all suprising if some people choose to stay in a country where they go through all the trouble of obtaining a Visa.

    Also, I heard from someone who has a friend living in Spain that he stays for his 90 days (allowed on passport) and then flies to like France for a week or a couple days and comes back… So he has been living in Spain for five years doing this… No Visa… Does anyone know if this is possible at all? Seems sort of far fetched to me… :/

  10. Jocelyn September 7, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    I came here on a student visa in 2003 for an MA and now have dual citizenship through marriage. I really can’t see any other way of staying legally long term other than marriage (and there are many, many hoops to jump through for that). My mom and her husband would love to move to the UK to be closer to us and their grandkids and for a different lifestyle but there is just no way they would ever be able to.
    I suppose coming here on a student visa gets your foot through the door but I can’t see how it leads to being able to stay on legally and I would say to anyone trying to do so to be prepared to go back to the States in the end with a lot of student loans.
    UK immigration is not very friendly to Americans- we are one of the few countries that can’t work here legally on au pair/ nanny visa (I tried and ended up working in Sweden), we don’t have the rights of EU countries to work here (obviously), or even the commonwealth countries like Australia who can come for 2 year working holiday. It’s an uphill struggle to be an American wanting to live in the UK.

  11. Kathryn September 7, 2010 at 9:38 am

    I came in on a student visa, and now I’m still here, on a different student visa….and I’m just about to start my fifth year living here. I heard the same news report, but was a bit miffed that they didn’t specify how many of those people coming in on student visas were still here five years on legally?? Because, after all of the hair pulling, saving, bank account stressing and worry it really irritates me to be discussed as a problem when I did my best to follow all of the contradictory, convoluted and mostly stupid rules. Not to mention the fact that my international student fees are one of the main parts of university funding keeping the education system in this country solvent. I sometimes think that this country forgets that many of those here on student visas are some of the best paying customers around.

    Oh, and five years from now? I’m still hoping to be here, even though it seems to be policy to make that as difficult as possible.

  12. Angel ♥ Dazzle Me September 7, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Yankeebean, I am planning on going out there in December, I have a masters in Psych and am planning to do social work (which is a needed job out there). I am hoping to find a job in 3 months on a passport… But I was considering trying straight to apply to school and get my PhD instead… The requirements state that you have to have the money for the first year- on the school website you can get loans from here (US) to go even out there- I was wondering if you have saved up the money for the first year or if you had went the route of student loans, grants, etc.? Sorry if that seems too personal, but just wondering what is my best option really… And honestly, I don’t know anyone personally who has done it. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated- and I understand each case is different so I would just like some general thoughts in that direction. I already have a good idea of what I am going to do either way. Thanks. :)

  13. NFAH September 7, 2010 at 3:01 am

    I came in beyond my student years, on a work permit visa and with a job. It’s not getting any easier for us either, as they have been clamping down on this too. The current requirements (which include a certain bank account balance before moving — even with a work permit and a UK job in hand) would probably have prevented me from coming now, four years later.

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