Tens of thousands more foreign students will be allowed into the UK without having to prove they have the right qualifications or can even speak English, as the new Home Secretary continues to relax visa rules.
According to the plan from Sajid Javid, some students will also not have to prove they can support themselves in the UK if they come from nations the Home Office considers to be “low risk” for people abusing the system, the Daily Mail reports.
The announcement of the changes to so-called “Tier 4” visas comes days after Mr. Javid announced changes to “Tier 2” visas, allowing in thousands of more skilled and professional migrants.
Earlier in the week, he also introduced a new form of visa – the “start-up” visa route – to allow in more foreign graduates and people looking to start up businesses.
The reforms, when brought into action, will be the first major relaxation of immigration rules in eight years.
They signal a significant shift in Home Office approach since the time of Theresa May and Amber Rudd, who tightened or maintained stricter rules when they were in charge of the department.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid Relaxes Immigration Rules for First Time Since 2010, Visa Cap to Rise by Thousands https://t.co/di1lXmoIvI
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 14, 2018
Critics say the changes risk making it easier for migrants to pose as students to enter the country illegally, but the Home Office says there is little evidence of this.
Specifically, the Home Office will add 11 nations to its “trusted” list for student visas, including China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico, Bahrain, Serbia, Dominican Republic, Kuwait, Maldives, and Macau.
The list will swell by more than a third, to 30, and students from these countries will enjoy a streamlined application process whereby they will need to provide fewer documents when they apply for visas.
For example, they will not need to prove they meet the requirements for living costs of up to £1,265 a month, produce evidence of previous qualifications, or their ability to speak English fluently.
The number of students affected is likely to hit six figures, as in the past year up to March, a massive 100,769 students from the 11 nations were granted permission to study in the UK.
The think-tank MigrationWatch warned of a “slippery slope”, commenting: “The last time the student visa system was loosened in 2009 it took years to recover from the massive inflow of bogus students, especially from India.”