By Uglobal Staff
The United Kingdom will begin accepting visa applications for its new graduate route from July 1, which enables international students to stay in the country for at least another two years following the completion of their studies.
International students pursuing a master’s degree at an accredited institution would be allowed to stay in the country for two years when they would be able to look for work, switch jobs and create their career path as they themselves deem fit, according to the British Home Office. Doctoral students would be allowed to stay on an additional year (3 years in total) following the completion of their studies.
UK makes changes to its rules for international students
One of the most important points of this route is the fact that applicants on student visas would not need to have a job offer to stay in the UK after completing their studies. They would be free to remain in the UK unsponsored with no need to meet certain salary requirements, for example, when finding work to stay in the country. There will also be no caps on number of international students who will be allowed to stay under this route.
One of the objectives of this new route is to reestablish the UK as a premier destination in the global educational market space. The UK is said to have been losing its attractiveness to international students ever since the country reduced the post-graduation stay period for international students to a mere four months. The then British Home Secretary (and former Prime Minister), Theresa May, who had made that decision in 2012, had claimed the two-year stay period for international students was a tad “too generous.” The pre-Brexit move had hit foreign students from non-EU states the hardest, many of whom had no option but to leave the UK as soon as their visas ran out while many others began to opt for European countries to pursue their higher studies since many EU states allowed foreign students to stay for at least two years post-graduation and look for work.
Competing with EU for talented foreign students
The latest move is a sign that the UK wishes to retain top international talent in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland instead of losing it to growing competition in Europe and other strong economies of the world.
Even though the measure to launch a new graduate route was announced as early as 2019, British Immigration Minister Kevin Foster hinted how the pandemic brings a certain sense of urgency to keep attracting foreign talent in post-Brexit UK.
“As we rebuild from the global pandemic, we want the world’s brightest talent, who aspire to a career at the highest levels of business, science, the arts and technology to see our United Kingdom as the natural place to fulfil their aspirations,” Foster said in the March 4 statement. He added that the new graduate route would ensure that post-graduation international students would be able “to easily secure the status they need to continue living, working and fulfilling their dreams in the UK.”
All foreign students who completed their undergraduate degree or above in the country would be eligible to apply under the graduate route. The UK is also giving concessions to foreign students who have been unable to visit the UK despite being enrolled in courses at British educational institutions. Students who began their term in the fall of 2020 and enter the UK by June 2021 will now be eligible to apply for the graduate route. Also, students who began their term in January and February 2021 have until Sept. 27 this year to enter the UK to avail this opportunity.
As part of its overall strategy to recover the economic losses incurred during the chaos caused by the pandemic and Brexit, the U.K. late February also launched a separate visa stream for highly-skilled migrants. This new scheme would be implemented from March 2022 that will allow British financial firms to hire foreign talent without going through expensive and time consuming bureaucratic processes.
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