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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

UK intensifies student visa regulations

As part of the British government’s widespread attempt to crack down on illegal immigration, Britain has made changes to its visa regulations including an increase in the fee on student visas.

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File photo/The IthacanBill Sheasgreen, director of the London Center for Ithaca College, breaks down information about the center in Textor 102 to students who plan to study abroad in London the following semester.

Ithaca College’s popular London Center was recently awarded a Highly Trusted Sponsor status by the British government, which means few students will be affected by the new policies, Rachel Cullenen, director of study abroad in the Office of International Programs, said.

The only change that will affect students at the college is the price increase, which will bring up the fee from $400 to nearly $500.

The new policies are meant to prevent foreign students from completely immigrating to the country instead of coming just to study.

The visa fee will vary depending on the program the student is enrolled in and their estimated living expenses. Britain also continues to require students to prove they had the financial support to pay for their program, accommodations and living expenses without working.

The British government will also eliminate the existing post-study work program next month, which allows foreign students to spend an additional two years in Britain after they have received their degrees.

So far, the college’s London Center has received 67 applications for the fall semester.

Bill Sheasgreen, director of the London Center, said these regulations will not significantly affect the undergraduates at the center, but they may affect students from other institutions.

“The visa costs are going up,” he said. “They’re not going up spectacularly, they’re just keeping pace with inflation.”

Under the new regulations, foreign students will be able to remain in the country if they have graduated from a college or university and have a job offer that will pay a minimum of $31,500 a year. Students will also have the option of remaining in the country if they have at least $80,000 to invest in a business.

According to the Home Office, the British government’s department for passports and immigration, these restrictions will help boost the British economy and ensure that foreign students can support themselves after graduating.

Sheasgreen said these major changes will only affect a small number of students from the college because most of them do not get full-time degrees in London. Few students return to London to get a master’s degree.

Cullenen said the regulations are generally not aimed at American students.

“The reason the British government is putting all of these requirements in place is to make sure students who are coming to the country are coming as students and are not coming with the intentions to immigrate,” Cullenen said. “Clearly for the U.S. market, that’s really not a risk.”

The United Kingdom has consistently been the most popular country for study abroad at the college, and it is the most popular study abroad destination nationwide, followed by Spain, Italy, Australia, Ireland and Argentina, according to the Institute of International Education.

Study abroad is a key aspect in the college’s goal of educating the global citizen, and it is a major point in IC 20/20, the college’s core curriculum plan. The college plans to change the current trend of students studying mainly in Europe and begin sending more students to Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Cullenen also said the United Kingdom is one of the stricter countries when it comes to student visas. Students must go through visa fees and undergo a biometrics appointment.

Cullenen said the London Center’s new trusted sponsor status allows for a less strict process for acquiring student visas. This semester, the British government has become more lenient with the timeline for this process at the college.

“That changed, a little bit, the severity and the close attention to the timeline that students had to follow,” Cullenen said. “We have seen that they have started being a little bit more flexible with certain requirements.”

Though the process is long, students who want internships while at the London Center are willing to do it. Sophomore Dylan Lyons said he wants to take advantage of the opportunities for internships in London during the spring semester of next year.

“We’ll have certain connections for internships that you might not get if you went to another country,” Lyons said. “[The visa process] is a little complicated, and it costs a decent amount of money, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”