The creation of a new two-year post-study work visa route will encourage more individuals to go to the UK for higher studies and this will help achieve its aim of having six lakh international students by 2030, British Deputy High Commissioner to India Jan Thompson said on Wednesday.
The new route announced on Wednesday also means that Indian students will once again be able to stay in the United Kingdom for two years to find work after they graduate.
Currently, most international students pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees can stay and work for only four months and those at 27 universities on a pilot scheme get six months.
The UK ended its two-year post-study work visa offer during Theresa May’s term as UK home secretary in 2012, widely seen as responsible for a major drop in student numbers from countries like India.
“The graduate route will provide an opportunity for international students, who have been awarded their degree, to stay and work in the UK at any skill level for two years. Graduates will be able to switch to skilled work once they have found a suitable job.
“It is expected that students entering the UK in the 2020-21 academic year intake will be eligible for this route. It has been announced now so that universities, stakeholders and customers preparing for the next academic year are aware of this change and could feature this as part of the plans,” Thompson said.
British Council, which manages the higher education focused bilateral programme, UKIERI (UK-India Education and Research Initiative), also welcomed the move.
“It is a welcome development for Indian students and UK education institutions alike. The new graduate immigration route supports the ambitions of Indian students, who, as we know, consider post-study work option as an important factor when making their choice of studying abroad.
“UK university campuses and classrooms are enriched by the presence of Indian students. The new visa policy giving students the chance to develop their careers in an international marketplace helps reconfirm the UK’s position as a world leading destination for Indian students,” said Tom Birtwistle, Director (North), British Council India.
The visa will be two years long and will be a separate visa, requiring a new application, including payment of a visa fee and immigration health surcharge, according to the new norms.
The route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement. However, graduates who find an appropriate job and meet the requirements will be able to switch into skilled work, which is a route to settlement.
Those who graduate and whose leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible for it, however, most of these students will have had no expectation of benefiting from such a route when they applied to study in the UK, according to the norms.
“The new Graduate Route will mean talented international students, whether in science and maths or technology and engineering, can study in the UK and then gain valuable work experience as they go on to build successful careers,” said UK home secretary Priti Patel, the senior-most Indian-origin member of Johnson’s Cabinet.
“It demonstrates our global outlook and will ensure that we continue to attract the best and brightest,” she said.