Game Changer for International Students?

In a move that could be a game-changer for students contemplating to study in the UK, the UK government has announced the reinstatement of the two-year post-study visa for foreign students. This was a key overturn of then Home Secretary Theresa May’s restrictive immigration policy that was put in place back in 2012; a move that has been seen as the main reason for the reduction in the number of international students opting to go to the UK for their overseas studies.

At present, graduates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees are allowed to look for work for only four months upon completion of their studies. The UK government, in its new International Education Strategy released earlier this year, contained proposals of extending the period from 4 months to 6 months for undergraduate and master’s students and 12 months for doctoral students. This extension has been met with enthusiasm from the university sector and Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK called it “very positive news” and further commented that “The introduction of a two-year post-study work visa is something Universities in the UK has long campaigned for and we strongly welcome this policy change, which will put us back where we belong as a first-choice study destination. Not only will a wide range of employers now benefit from access to talented graduates from around the world, these students hold lifelong links with the UK, in a recent study it was shown that 77% of graduates wanted to retain business links with the UK and 88% would return for tourism”.

The new immigration route will allow undergraduate and graduate students to work or seek employment at any skill level after completing their courses at a recognized higher education institution with a track record of adhering to immigration law. The number of students that will be allowed to take this opportunity will not be capped and students entering the 2020/21 academic year will be eligible for this opportunity.

However, it would be interesting to see how this new move juxtaposes with the Post-Study work visa route scrapped in 2012. The announcements specifically made mention of being “unlike the route closed in 2012, whilst including safeguards to ensure only credible students are eligible”. It is still unclear as to when graduates will actually start to benefit from the new visa as no legislation has been passed yet but as per the announcement made by the Government, students enrolling in the 2020/2021 cohort should benefit from it. There still remains an uncertainty for those who enrolled earlier but are graduating in 2021.

It is definitely encouraging to see the Government taking steps in promoting the higher education sector ahead of Brexit though it comes at a time when immigration policy seems to be changing on a daily basis, thus leaving only advertising puff with no solid legislation upon which students can rely on.

121 Immigration Lawyers offer expert advice and help in relation to the Student Visas or Post Study Visa, contact our immigration Lawyers in London or Birmingham on 0121 285 5121 or 0203 745 1616 or complete the Online Enquiry form.