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Britain eases student visa rules

It will be easier for Malaysians to apply for a student visa to Britain from Monday. They will no longer need to show documentary proof of financial maintenance and education qualifications. Opulentus UKBritish High Commissioner Simon Featherstone said Malaysia had been added to the list of low-risk countries for Tier 4 student applications. “This means our highly valued Malaysian students will from Oct 1 benefit from a simplified application process, making it easier for them to apply to study in Britain,” he said here. Malaysian students, said Featherstone, made a vital contribution to the British economy and to making its education system one of the best in the world. “We are therefore pleased to announce this concession, which recognises the low risk they pose to the British immigration system.” Only a handful of countries, such as South Korea, Japan, Canada and the United States, whose nationals have demonstrated the very highest levels of immigration compliance, are on the list. However, the simplified application process is only for those asking for visas to study at British universities with Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) status. Those applying to universities without such status will still have to submit all documents with their application. According to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) website, a Highly Trusted Sponsor is a licence given to universities to sponsor visas for international students outside the European Union. Previously, the agency's guidelines required all applicants to provide a bank statement or letter confirming that they had enough money to cover their course fees and living costs for a given period. They must also prove that the money is in their accounts for 28 days before the date of the application. Since the simplified application process would only be put into place from Monday, the commission reminded those applying before that date to still provide all the necessary supporting documents. The commission also announced UKBA's decision to allow genuine students who were partly through their courses at the London Metropolitan University (LMU) to continue until completion or the end of the academic year, whichever sooner. Students who were in Britain illegally and did not meet immigration criteria would not be allowed to stay, it said. Six Malaysian students currently studying at LMU are affected and face deportation after the agency withdrew the university's licence to sponsor visas for non-EU students last month. Source: Karen Chapman

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