350,000 foreigners enter Britain on ’student’ visas

August 2nd, 2010 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 2 (IANS) Nearly 350,000 foreigners entered Britain on suspect student visas last year despite new rules to curb the number of illegal immigrants, officials said Monday.
Home Office figures reveal the total of visiting “students” and their dependents rocketed to 344,396 in the 12 months to April. That was a whopping 84,321 more than the previous year, a rise of nearly a third.

Student visas are notoriously abused by illegal immigrants since a new points-based system came in two years ago in an effort to stem the flow. There are no checks to see if the students attend courses or whether they go home afterwards, The Sun reported.

Thousands also cheat by applying for visas to study at colleges which do not exist. Tory Immigration Minister Damian Green said of the new figures: “This is proof that under the last Government, the number of student visas rocketed. Labour allowed this system to get out of control.”

“This Government will work hard to bring the number of student visas down while also addressing the problem of bogus colleges,” he added.

Migrationwatch UK’s Sir Andrew Green said: “There is growing evidence that the new points-based system has provided a back door to Britain for bogus students.”

The new figures were revealed by Home Office Minister Baroness Neville-Jones in an answer to a parliamentary question tabled by Ulster Unionist peer Lord Laird.

It also emerged Sunday that the UK Border Agency overpaid 13 million pounds in benefits to asylum seekers in the last two years.

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