IMMIGRATION laws which have crippled Eastbourne’s language schools have been changed, almost doubling the time students can stay in Britain.
Foreigners wanting to study English language can now stay for 11 months, previously six months, after the Home Office announced changes to its immigration rules.
Stephen Lloyd MP led a delegation of MPs and Eastbourne language school principals to the Home Office appealing for the amendment. Mr Lloyd also questioned the Prime Minister twice in parliament on the topic and met with the Home Secretary.
He said, “It has been a great deal of work getting the Government to see the extent of the effect the regulations were having on towns like Eastbourne, but I am extremely glad common sense has eventually prevailed.
“Eastbourne’s economy is highly dependent on foreign students who come to our town every year to learn English in beautiful surroundings, from the jobs in the schools themselves to the money they spend in local shops everyday and not forgetting the many hundreds of Eastbourne families who act as hosts to students while they are here, providing them with a vital income.”
Old regulations were introduced by the Labour government in March to crack down on the number of bogus students entering the country illegally and the sham colleges which supply fraudulent student visas. But Damian Green, the immigration minister, has extended the period of leave to 11 months for those who specifically attend English languages courses. Students must be able to speak English to at least AS-level for them to be granted a visa for longer than six months.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said, “This must be watched very carefully. It is potentially a serious loophole as some of these colleges are selling immigration not education and they are leaving the taxpayer to pick up the costs of the illegal overstaying that results.”
Graham White, principal Eastbourne School of English, said, “I was delighted to hear of the announcement. This is excellent news and at the same time the Government has clearly decided to increase the pressure on computer and business colleges by raising the English language requirement – quite rightly, in my view.
“I also want to thank Stephen for all he has done to keep this issue well up the agenda. His role has been crucial and is much appreciated.”