Seminaries face entry tests for foreign pupils
NEW IMMIGRATION rules could make it harder for students from abroad to study at yeshivot and seminaries in the UK.
In future, educational institutions will need to be licensed with the new Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) in order to take students from outside the European Union.
They will also have to show proof of inspection from official bodies such as Ofsted or the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.
Michoel Posen, director of the strictly Orthodox Agudas Israel Community Services in London, said: “It appears that there are going to be many more requirements that yeshivahs and seminaries will have to comply with, in order that students will be eligible to obtain visas.”
He estimated that around 100 students from Israel or North America were studying at Orthodox institutions in the UK.
The new guidelines, published by the BIA at the end of last week, are due to come into effect in February. Licensed institutions could face spot checks from immigration officials at any time.
But already, under existing border controls, there have been reports of Orthodox tourists experiencing difficulty on entry and even being sent home by immigration officials.
“What seems to us is that more and more people are being turned back,” said a spokesman for the Society for the Welfare of Jewish Prisoners, an Orthodox charity which also deals with cases of people detained under entry regulations.
In one case, a man risked being detained over Shabbat until officials relented so that he was allowed to spend it in North London until being put on a flight back to Israel.
The society has now issued guidelines for Israelis and others to avoid problems when coming as tourists.
Visitors may be asked whether they have a return ticket or enough money to cover their stay in the UK, and should know that they cannot do even unpaid work here.
“People should be aware of the basic guidelines before they come to the UK,” the SWJP spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the new BIA rules for potential economic migrants contain special provision for “religious workers”, who will need to be “endorsed by the appropriate UK faith body, demonstrating that he or she is an established religious worker overseas”.
Jon Benjamin, director-general of the Board of Deputies, said: “We have been working closely with the Home Office on this, to help officials understand the workings of our community, from Liberal to Charedi, and the implications of the new regulations.
We have also established a system of accreditation by religious authorities from across the community, so we can regulate who is approved for entry, both to our satisfaction and that of the immigration authorities.”