Britain on Tuesday published a list of nearly 1,900 banks in India -- most of them cooperative -- whose financial statements will not be accepted for student visa purposes, a move that is set to affect thousands of Indian students wanting to study there.
The new list has just 85 banks operating in India whose statements will be accepted for purposes of student visas.
As part of the application for student visas -- Tier 4 under the points-based system -- applicants have to show evidence of possessing the necessary funds to pursue a course of study and live in the UK for the duration of the course.
From November 24, if any applicant provides bank statements from the listed nearly 1,900 Indian banks showing they have the necessary funds, the application will not be considered.
The list includes banks operating in many states in India.
The list of banks whose statements will not be accepted are categorised as 'Cooperative banks -- scheduled urban cooperative banks' and 'Cooperative banks -- non-scheduled urban cooperative banks'.
Official sources said the visa officers will accept statements from student visa applicants from 'international banks, or national banks with a UK private banking presence, or regulated national/state banks that provide a core banking service'.
The Home Office also published a list of 85 banks operating in India whose statements will be accepted for purposes of student visas.
This list of banks includes 'Scheduled commercial banks'.
The drawing up of approved and non-approved list of Indian financial institutions for student visa purposes means that applicants who have accounts in banks mentioned in the non-approved list will have to open accounts in the 85 banks mentioned in the approved list before applying for the student visas.
A Home Office statement said: "The list forms part of the reforms to the student immigration route. The change is to ensure that we can verify that student visa applicants hold the required maintenance funds to support themselves and pay for their course in the UK."
Verification checks are made on the basis of documents provided with the student visa application but there have reportedly been many cases when such checks have not been 'satisfactory', particularly from cooperative or smaller banks.
The statement added: "An unsatisfactory verification check means that the institution does not respond to or provide a reliable response to our request for information, or we are unable to contact the institution.
"When a bank frequently provides unsatisfactory responses to verification requests, it is proportionate to include it on a list from which we will not accept documents, rather than verifying applications individually."
It said the list will be kept under review, and additions or deletions will be made as appropriate.
The Home Office published a similar list of financial institutions in Pakistan and the Philippines whose statements will or will not be accepted.
In 2010, Britain had suspended issuing students visas in north India and Pakistan following reports of large scale abuse of the visa system.