U.K. bans Canadian students from working while in school

A row of piggy banks in a souvenir shop in London March 24, 2010. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Correction: The new U.K. immigration policy will only impact international students at further education colleges and not the more than 6,000 Canadians enrolled at higher education institutions.

In an attempt to cut down on immigration fraud, some Canadian and other foreign students will no longer be able to work while attending school in the United Kingdom.

British Prime Minister David Cameron claims the revamped policy, which goes into effect later this year, is designed to reduce migration from “hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands.”

With its proposed new immigration policy the U.K. government is essentially telling Canadian students: we’ll gladly take your money, but don’t expect much in return.

The legislation applies to the approximately 20,000 foreign students enrolled at further education colleges and not to the more than 6,000 Canadians at higher education universities in the U.K.. Currently all non-European Union students are allowed to work a maximum of 10 hours per week. To make things even more painful, students affected by the new changes will no longer be allowed to stay in the U.K. when applying for extended study visas.

The crackdown may have a chilling effect on the number of students jumping the pond. Also with the Canadian dollar taking a beating against the British pound, living costs have skyrocketed for students, who are now unable to offset that by working.

Lastly, students will lose valuable work experience. After all, who is more likely to get a job right out of school, the student who has work experience or the student who doesn’t?

By comparison, the rules for students wanting to study in the United States are much more relaxed. Canadians don’t even have to go through a pre-screening process at the Consulate before they arrive. Rather they can apply for their status at the port of entry as long as they have the following documents:

  1. Proof of identity and citizenship (a Canadian passport);
  2. The original I-20 (or DS-2019) certificate;
  3. Proof that you have paid your SEVIS fee (SEVIS is the American student tracking system);
  4. Proof that you have the funds to pay for the school that you plan to attend;
  5. Proof of your ties to Canada.

Even better, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week while studying, and during holidays and breaks this can be increased to full-time hours. You are still restricted to having to find work on campus, but only during the first year of your studies. After that you can apply to work off campus.

The bottom line is it will be a lot cheaper and easier for affected Canadians to study in the U.S.

This begs the question of how smart the U.K.’s new immigration policy will turn out to be. In an effort to decrease “visa fraud,” they will likely decrease foreign capital flowing in, as most students will be priced out of the country.

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