UK’s stricter student visa regulations to hit Pinoy student nurses

With the United Kingdom set to implement more stringent student visa guidelines to prevent “abuse by economic migrants,” a recruitment consultant expressed fears that the thousands of Filipino student nurses in the British isles may be negatively affected.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday the UK will effect the changes to Tier 4 (Student Visa) Regulations in March under its new Points-Based System of Migration, based on earlier announcement by UK Home Affairs Minister Alan Johnson.

“The Philippine Embassy in London reiterates its advice for all prospective applicants under Tier 4 to secure updated information on new regulations, procedures, and requirements from the UK Embassy in Manila,” the DFA said in a release on its website.

The DFA said the initial announcement outlines broad measures resulting from a comprehensive review of the Tier 4 scheme as initially relayed by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in November 2009.

In the Ministerial Statement/Notes released by the UK Home Office, the UK Government announced the modifications were aimed at achieving a “a balanced and targeted package of measures to tackle the abuse of Tier 4 by economic migrants whilst at the same time continuing to safeguard the ability of genuine international students to come to the UK to benefit from our world class education system and bring benefit to our economy.”

New setup

Under the new setup, students will only be allowed to work during the school term for 10 hours a week instead of the present 20 hours a week.

Students registered in courses of six months or less can also no longer bring dependents with them to the UK.
Further, dependents will not be permitted to work unless they qualify in their own right under Tier 1 (General) as a highly skilled migrant or as a skilled worker under Tier 2 (General worker, sportsperson or Minister of Religion).

The DFA said the changes will apply to adult students coming to the UK to study below degree level in the further-education and English-language sectors.

But it said these changes will not apply to students coming to the UK for a foundation degree (broadly the equivalent of the first two years of a Bachelor’s degree), courses at degree level or above, and those coming in as children at independent or private schools.

The changes will come into force on March 3 and all Tier 4 applications submitted on or after this date will be subject to the new restrictions.

Uncertainty for Pinoy student nurses

Recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani said the changes may place in uncertainty the status of about 10,000 Filipino health workers, most of whom are nurses, who entered UK from 2007 to 2009.
Majority of these health workers availed of the study-and-work plan offered by various consultancies and are presently taking awards, certification and diploma courses, also known as National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ).

Further, more than half enrolled only in certificate courses lasting for six months, while at the same time working in care homes.

“Ten hours per week and the new rule which prohibits their dependents the right to work will make it difficult to cope with the living expenses like food, rent and taxes, with the high standard of living in the UK,” Geslani said.

Geslani further disclosed that the NVQ, which is set to be replaced this year by a yet to be determined program, only allows a stay of one year and will not allow the workers to remain as permanent residents.
“Many of these nurses will be forced to return to the Philippines if they cannot shift to higher education courses like degree programs in universities,” Geslani explained.

Geslani, however, said that despite this, Filipino students from all fields may take advantage of taking a one-year degree in the UK. This will allow the students to stay and do paid work for up to two years without studying further, which will in turn lead to securing a work permit.— via GMANews.TV