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December 20, 2009

Indian migrants using student loan racket to get UK visas

     London: Serious loopholes in British immigration rules are potentially allowing thousands of young Indians to enter Britain on falsely obtained student visas. An investigation launched by undercover reporters of The Sunday Times found foreign agents offering would-be students 10,500 pound loans so that they could convince the UK Border Agency in their visa applications that they have enough money in their bank account to pay fees and support themselves in Britain. The money is handed back to the lender as soon as it has appeared on bank statements for a month. The cost to the student is a seven percent interest charge and 200 pound processing fee, which amounts to about 935 pounds. The paper established that the scam is operating widely in towns in Punjab, northwest India . It threatens to undermine new Home Office immigration rules which ministers insisted would reduce the number of new arrivals. Instead, the number of visas granted to Indian students has nearly doubled in the past year, from 29,000 to 52,000. It is feared that many have no intention of studying and simply disappear after entering the UK . Liam Byrne , the former immigration minister and now chief secretary to the treasury, created the new points-based entry system. Students need 40 points to come to Britain . They receive 30 for holding a course offer from a college or university and 10 for proving that they can pay fees and support themselves. An undercover reporter last week approached five visa agencies in different Punjabi towns seeking help to move to the UK , emphasising that his intention was to find a job rather than study. In four cases the agencies offered him a loan as “proof” that he could fund the course. It is not clear how many people have managed to enter Britain.
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