Indian migrants are third largest group to undertake Channel dinghy crossings
Indians are the third largest group of migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year, Home Office officials have said.
Around 250 Indian migrants arrived in the UK using this method in January, more than the 233 who entered in small boats in the first nine months of last year.
They represent almost a fifth of the 1,180 migrants who have made the dangerous crossing this year. Afghans were the largest group followed by Syrians.
One Home Office official believes Indian students are exploiting a loophole that allows them to attend UK universities at lower prices.
They are able to study for a degree and pay domestic fees, which are currently capped at £9,250, while their applications for asylum are processed.
A Border Force source told the Times: ‘It’s cheaper to do this than the student visa route and it’s probably more guaranteed.’
Indians may also have sailed into Britain via Serbia because of a previous visa-free arrangement with India.
The deal ended on January 1 as part of Serbia’s efforts to align itself with EU visa policies.
‘We’ve seen a spike of Indian nationals coming across in small boats over the last few months,’ a figure from the Home Office said.
‘It’s a bit of a mystery but there’s some work showing that it could be an issue of Indians gaining visa travel into Serbia.
‘The worry is that this is a longer-term trend with all the implications that holds of illegal migration from a country of more than 1 billion people.’
Indian citizens account for the largest number of migrants who overstay their visas.
More than 20,000 Indians overstayed in 2020, way ahead of any other nationality.