By: Pramod Thomas
Britain’s Home Office has said that Indians are the third-largest contingent of migrants who crossed the Channel this year, reported The Times.
According to reports, as many as 250 Indian migrants crossed the Channel in small boats this year.
The report added that Indian students now use a loophole that allows asylum seekers to study in the UK and pay domestic rather than international fees.
The Home Office said that they use Serbia’s visa-free travel rules for Indians to enter into Europe. All Indian passport holders were able to enter Serbia without a visa for up to 30 days until last year.
“We’ve seen a spike of Indian nationals coming across in small boats over the last few months,” a Home Office source told The Times.
“It’s a bit of a mystery but there’s some work showing that it could be an issue of Indians gaining visa travel into Serbia. The worry is that this is a longer-term trend with all the implications that holds of illegal migration from a country of more than 1 billion people.”
Reports said that a typical Indian citizen has to spend £363 for a student visa, about £940 for the immigration health surcharge and an average of about £22,000 a year in international student fees to study an undergraduate degree in England.
Meanwhile, asylum seekers are able to study while their application is being processed and some pay only domestic fees, which are frozen at £9,250.
According to The Times, the typical fee migrants are paying people-smugglers to cross the Channel in a small boat is about £3,500.
A Border Force source said that students using the route may face deportation if their claim is rejected as only 4 per cent of Indian asylum applications are granted.
Home Office statistics show that 20,706 Indians overstayed their visas in 2020, more than any other nationality. But other countries recorded a higher proportion.
Government sources have said they are expecting a fresh surge of Albanian migrants to attempt to cross the Channel in small boats in the spring based on ‘seasonal trend’.
“The global migration crisis continues to place an unprecedented strain on our asylum system. This is why we are going to introduce legislation which will ensure that people arriving in the UK illegally are detained and removed to another country,” a government spokesman told The Times.
“Our migration deal with India aims to enhance and accelerate the removal of Indian nationals with no right to stay in the UK and secure greater cooperation around organised immigration crime.”
According to reports, as many as 127,530 study visas were granted to Indians last year and they brought a total of 33,226 dependants with them.