Changes to UK immigration laws to affect students, workers

Just a week after being reelected, Tony Blair revealed that changes to the government's immigration laws would affect foreign workers and overseas students.

Foreign students overstaying their visas will be subjected to more stringent rules as the Prime Minister promised to 'tighten up' immigration controls on 12 May.

Speaking at his monthly conference, he said, "There are measures we need to take, and we will tighten up the system. We'll introduce the points system for work permits; we're compiling a register of all the accredited student colleges so we're making sure people aren't overstaying their welcome.

"We're going to end this going to bogus colleges," the Prime Minister added.

Lobbying group Universities UK has welcomed the government's move to tackle the problem of fraudulent applications and provide an accurate list of bona fide education providers.

Visa extension fees

Also affecting the country's 318,630 foreign students was a new ruling last month. Overseas students now have to pay up to £500 each to continue studying in Britain, after the government implemented their controversial plans for visa extensions.

Prior to the recent changes, students from outside the European Union had to pay £155 to extend their visa by post and £250 for a rapid service. These fees have now increased to £250 and £500 respectively.

Also newsworthy, a recent banking survey by the National Union for Students (NUS) revealed 48 percent of overseas students were not given cheque books. Twenty-seven percent did not receive a debit card and 53 percent did not have an overdraft facility.

Foreign students pay as much as £1.5 billion a year in fees and contribute £3 billion to the country's economy.

Britain is the world's second biggest international student market behind the United States. By 2020, the current number of foreign students is expected to treble to 5.8 billion.

According to the British Council's, the UK accounted for 24 percent of the market for overseas students in English-speaking countries last year.