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Britain Saturday partially lifted visa restrictions on north Indian students, nearly two weeks after they were imposed on suspicion of large-scale irregularities.

British Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills Pat McFadden told reporters here that the decision was taken in response of huge surge in applications within a short period of time.

“The suspension was taken in response to a huge surge in applications over a very short period of time. I am delighted to be able to announce today (Saturday) that, from March 1, this suspension will be lifted for all students wanting to study higher education courses, whether foundation degrees, undergraduate or postgraduate,” McFadden, who is visiting India, said.

Britain temporarily stopped accepting student visa applications at the UK Visa Application Centres in New Delhi, Chandigarh and Jalandhar from Feb 1 after a sudden 10-fold increase in the student visa applications from India, causing them to suspect some irregularities in the process.

But the temporary suspension remains for students wishing to study at lower levels.

“We will continue to keep this under review and will lift it as soon as we can, and once the new system for colleges and other educational establishments across the UK is in place,” McFadden said.

The tighter rules for international students from India and elsewhere were aimed to ensure that students studying below degree level have a limited ability to work in Britain, and that their dependents cannot work there at all.

The new measures for students include: a good standard of English, restricting the lowest level courses to only the most trusted institutions, halving the amount of time a student studying below first degree level or on a foundation degree course will be able to work, to just 10 hours during term time.

Since March 2009, the government has required all foreign students to be sponsored by a college licensed by the UK Border Agency, and to demonstrate that they can support themselves once they get here before being granted a visa.

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