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Visas: Overseas Students

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the number of students in the UK on student visas who are not complying with the visa length of stay requirements. (178053)

[holding answer 14 January 2008]: As the then Home Secretary set out in his evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on 23 May 2006, following the dismantling of routine embarkation controls beginning in 1994, no government have been able to produce an accurate figure for the number of people who are in the country illegally, and that remains the case.

A clear goal has been set to reintroduce systems to count everyone in and out of United Kingdom (UK). The e-Borders programme, scheduled to commence this year, will strengthen and modernise our border control including providing an electronic record of all those entering and leaving the UK. We expect to count 95 per cent. of all passengers in and out of the country by the end of 2010.

In the meantime, targeted embarkation controls continue to take place at major ports to identify failed asylum seekers and other immigration offenders who are leaving the UK, and the Border and Immigration Agency is reviewing its capacity to extend these.