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Visa or not visa – this is the question in the UK

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) recently published a survey on experiences with the newly introduced Tier 4 Point Based System visa procedure for those international students’ who aim to extend their visas within the United Kingdom. Results show a significantly negative feedback on process management by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) responsible for considering applications and issuing visas. Besides the detailed survey results and the presentation of the key findings, recommendations for improvement are also put forward.

Some key figures highlighted by the report are

  • Only 36 percent of the international students considered the visa application process quick and efficient, 50 percent found the application form easy to fill in properly.

  • High incidental cost is an issue, as 63 percent of students had to spend more than 50 pounds and 48 percent of the respondents clearly highlighted that this expense was not reasonable.

  • More than half of the students had to wait at least two months to get their passports back, making it impossible for them to leave the country during this time. Furthermore, some students reported racist behaviour by the UKBA employees.

On the one hand the difficult immigration policy and complex visa application procedure can discourage a significant number of international students from starting their tertiary studies in the UK. This could be a clear loss to the academic sector and the entire economy. On the other hand visa fraud is a serious issue that has to be overcome. Finding harmony between easily manageable processes and screening out fraud applications or illegal immigrants remains a real challenge.