Around 680 students from the Asian financial hub are at risk of losing their places at British universities after their student visas were unexpectedly delayed, South China Morning Post reported over the weekend.
As of Sunday, some have finally received their documents but hundreds remain unable to travel to the UK in time to start the new school year. Around 80 students and parents lined up in front of the British visa centre in the city centre on Monday morning to urge for their applications to be accelerated.
“I worry that I’ll miss a few days of school, which is not ideal for a freshman,” said Claudia Chan, who is slated to study psychology in London.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do about the situation but wait patiently.”
Anxious students line up outside British visa centre in #HongKong as processing delay presses on https://t.co/u9pGgg3QWn
— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) September 4, 2017
Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said: “I hope the application centre can handle other accumulated cases as soon as possible to let students get their visas in the fastest way”.
Last Friday, Ip revealed at least 220 students have asked him for help over their visa delays.The number of such students more than tripled to 680 students as at 4pm on Sunday.
Though some have informed the lawmaker that they have received their documents, Ip is unsure of the exact numbers still in limbo but said he will continue to be in touch with the British consulate on this issue.
A UK Home Office spokesman said on Friday: “The British consulate has been made aware that some Hong Kong students have raised questions about … their UK student visa applications. We are looking into these individuals’ cases as a matter of urgency.”
The visa delay has caused affected students to miss the flights they have booked, as well as classes, losing time and money in the process. Whereas parents have had to reschedule their leave taken to accompany their children overseas.
In the case of one student who had applied for a priority visa – which typically takes between three to five days to process – on Aug 1, with the hope of flying over to start classes on Aug 21, the said student’s visa only arrived on last Friday on Sept 1. The student had to forgo the university place after missing important early classes, though other students also reported their university are more lenient and extended their attendance deadline.
SCMP noted that the UK has stopped processing passport application overseas. The move of operations to Liverpool has caused a backlog of 350,000 applications.
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