The UK government is considering further crackdowns on visas for non-EU nationals, which will include Indians, to curb its soaring immigration figures.
While no details of the plans have been unveiled yet, Prime Minister Theresa May is believed to be examining options to toughen visa rules for students and some workers from outside the 28-nation EU.
The move comes despite recent Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures indicating there has been a “statistically significant” drop in the number of students coming to the UK from outside Europe.
“There was a statistically significant decline in the number of non-EU citizens migrating to the UK to study, from 134,000 in the previous year to 111,000. There was a statistically significant decline in citizens of South Asia, with the number coming to study having almost halved,” ONS said in its ‘Migration Statistics Quarterly Report: August 2016’ last week.
India is the third largest category in terms of student visa applications after the US and China, with 10,664 granted between
“Brexit, unfortunately, could compound the problem for the UK’s world-class higher education sector, risking, as it does, 800 million pounds of EU research funding, top EU research talent and some 50,000 EU students enrolling every year.
“The rumours that Theresa May is planning a fresh crackdown on student visas are, therefore, extremely worrying,” James Pitman, managing director for the UK’s Study Group, told the ‘Times’.
It does not want to see a further toughening of Tier 2 visas as Indian migrants on the visa already have to be earning more than 35,000 pounds to remain in the UK.
“The government has taken up the matter bilaterally with the UK government at various levels and expressed concerns over the changes in UK visa rules,” commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha earlier this month.
Indian nationals have accounted for 57 per cent of the per cent of the UK’s total skilled work visas granted (53,548 of 93,935), with the US the next largest nationality group (10,019 or 11 per cent of the total).
Any further crackdowns will undoubtedly hit Indian professionals the hardest