An article in The Times has highlighted the “dramatic” differences in the visas given to students from Saudi Arabia and Canada.
“Many of these students are coming here to study and are working and working in Canada, and are often students here with parents who are in Canada,” a spokesperson for Universities UK, the group that administers the student visas, told the paper.
The spokesperson added that while the UK is “not an immigration country”, it “does have a role to play” and that it has “taken a number of steps to make sure the people who come to our country have the best opportunities to study in this country”.
However, they went on to explain that “many of these visas are very limited”.
They said the student visa scheme “is set to expire at the end of this month”, meaning that there is “nothing we can do to change that”.
However the spokesperson was quick to point out that the UK’s “special relationship” with Canada is “one that is very important”.
And, they added, “it is absolutely the right thing to do to provide the best possible opportunities for students from Canada and the UK to study here”.
What’s more, the spokesperson claimed that “the vast majority of visas are valid for up to six years”.
It is a claim that has been echoed by the UK government, which said that there are “a number of exceptions” to the six-year rule, including for “special circumstances”.
This, of course, is in stark contrast to Canada, which has issued hundreds of thousands of visas to students since the Brexit vote, and has seen many applications accepted and their numbers grow.
According to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), more than 8.3 million people applied for permanent residency last year, and applications for student visas more than doubled in the same period.