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Visa crackdown backed by Theresa May

Theresa May is backing a plan that would require foreign students to leave the country after they graduate. May believes that the current rules are being abused since many students stay in the country illegally after their studies. May's proposal is being considered for the next Conservative Party manifesto. Labour opposes that plan as foreign students bring "billions of investments" into Britain.

Theresa May admits that the government is unlikely to meet its immigration target. Photo: The Guardian Theresa May admits that the government is unlikely to meet its immigration target. Photo: The Guardian
21-12-2014 by BBC News

Theresa May, the home secretary, is backing a plan that would require foreign students to leave the country after graduating.

According to the BBC political correspondent, Carole Walker, the home secretary believes that the current rules are being abused by many students who stay on in the UK illegally after their studies.

"The proposal is being considered for the next Conservative Party manifesto."

Labour opposes the plan saying that foreign students brought "billions of investment" into Britain.

"Under the current rules, students from outside the EU are allowed to stay in Britain for four months at the end of their courses and if they get graduate jobs they can switch from student visas to work visas."

"The plan put forward by the Conservatives would require anyone whose student visa expires to leave the country and re-apply if they want to continue their studies or take up graduate jobs."

A senior Home Office source said that the "brightest and best" would still be able to come back to the UK, adding that abuse of the system was fuelling net immigration.

Theresa May has admitted that the government is unlikely to meet a target set by Prime Minister David Cameron to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands by the next election.

"In April it was revealed that the number of overseas students taking up places at England's universities had decreased by 4,595 in one year - the first fall in 29 years."

'Overseas students are economically valuable'

Vince Cable, Lib Dem Business Secretary, has repeatedly clashed with Theresa May over foreign students.  He says that she has been caught in a "public panic" over migrant numbers.

"Cable has warned that the public debate about immigration is in danger of damaging the "economically valuable" recruitment of overseas students to the UK."

Yvette Cooper, Shadow home secretary, said Mrs May's immigration policy was "in chaos".

Cooper said: "More does need to be done to stop people overstaying illegally when their visas run out - whether they arrived on student visas, work visas or tourist visas.

"But the answer to that isn't to prevent highly skilled overseas graduates getting legal work visas to fill shortages in fields like science or medicine here."