Britain student visa seekers queue up to beat changed rules


Chandigarh : Hundreds of youth and their relatives camped in the complex housing the British visa application centre here for the last two nights, seeking to beat the Oct 1 deadline when the changes in guidelines for student visas come into force.

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Currently, applicants may just keep the maintenance money in their bank accounts for a day before submitting the bank statements with their applications. However, according to the new guidelines, coming into force from Thursday, this amount will have to be kept in the accounts for at least 28 days.

Long queues of young boys and girls, many of them accompanied by their parents from towns and villages of Punjab and Haryana, were seen outside the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) centre for UK located here, which opened Tuesday after two holidays (Sunday and Monday).

Most of the aspirants, accompanied by relatives, had made the corridors of the busy Sector 8 commercial centre – where the VFS centre is – their temporary home, sleeping on the floor on bed-sheets spread outside the showrooms since the last two days.

“We are sitting outside this visa application centre since yesterday (Monday) morning and we have not slept the whole night. We are shocked to see this heavy rush and we think that we will have to wait for tomorrow before our turn comes,” Sikander Gill, who had come here from Patiala, 70 km from here, told IANS.

Gill had come here to apply for a student visa for his wife.

Bhupinder Singh, who had recently returned from Britain, told IANS: “Last time when I had come here, it took only 20 minutes for the submission of application and after 15 days I got my tourist visa for six months. Now, I am continuously coming here for the last three days but every time I failed to gain entry into the centre due to the rush.”

“This time I have come with all preparation, including clothes and blankets. I am even ready to spend the night outside this place so that tomorrow I can submit the form,” said Singh, who had come from the industrial town of Mandi Gobindgarh in Punjab, 50 km from here.

A VFS official based in New Delhi told IANS: “According to the reports that we are getting so far, there is a heavy rush, especially of student visa applicants, at our centres in the entire northern region. We expect this rush to continue till Oct 1.”

She added that as per the latest information from the British High Commission, students will be required to first keep the maintenance money in the bank for at least 28 days before submitting bank statements with visa applications from Oct 1.

“Presently, they can submit the statement after keeping the money in bank for just one day and this is the main reason for this huge rush,” she said.

The present processing fees for student visa to Britain is Rs.12,350 and the official maintained they have not got any communication regarding an increase in this fee so far.