The new UK post-study work visa, which was announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel last year, officially launched on 1 July 2021. The visa route is now open for applications, offering international students who graduate from UK universities the opportunity to apply for the right to remain in Britain for up to two years to find work.
The new UK visa route is expected to benefit Indian students in particular, who tend to choose their degree courses based on potential work experience opportunities after graduating.
Priti Patel said: “To put it into some context, last year more than 56,000 Indian nationals were granted a student visa, that’s a 13 per cent increase on the previous year, and that is almost now a quarter of all student visas issued by the UK.”
Benefit to Indians
“When you think about those numbers, think about the totality in terms of how this route will benefit India, it’s a very, very big move, and we will continue to work with the various academic institutions on making this route viable,” Ms Patel added.
To qualify for a post-study work visa, international graduates must have completed an eligible course at a UK higher education provider and have a track record of adhering with UK immigration requirements.
The route does not require sponsorship, and graduates do not require a job offer to apply. Plus, there are no minimum salary requirements and there is no limit on the number of people who can apply. The new visa program allows graduates to work flexibly, switch jobs and advance their careers.
Patel said: “As we build back better, it is vital that the UK continues to be a beacon for talented young people across the globe who want to make a difference. The new Graduate route does just that, giving the best and brightest graduates the opportunity to continue contributing to the UK’s prosperity and the freedom to kickstart their careers in the UK.”
Meanwhile, immigration minister Kevin Foster announced that a coronavirus visa concession will be extended until April 2022. Applicants who started their studies in autumn 2020 or in spring 2021 will need to be in the UK on a student visa by 27 September 2021.
Students beginning their studies later this year will be given until 6 April 2022 to arrive in the UK.
The concession has been welcomed by Indian student groups in the UK who were concerned by India’s placement on Britain’s travel red list.
Patel said: “Many other countries do not offer that microcosm, foundation of diaspora community, natural heritage, all the cultural links, all the values that we share between our two countries. That puts us in a very strong position, both for Indian students coming here and securing their future opportunities in the workplace.”
The launch of the new graduate route, which forms part of the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system, will support the UK’s ‘Global Britain’ message of attracting top talent from around the world.
Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, said: “International students are a vital part of our society, and those who graduate from our world-leading universities should have the opportunity to stay and build meaningful careers here in the UK.”
“That is why we are introducing this new route for international graduates, enabling British businesses to attract and retain some of the brightest, most talented graduates across the globe, and helping this nation build back better from the pandemic.”
The Chief Executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, Anne Marie Graham, said: “We know that employability is a priority for international students coming to study in the UK.”
“International students who are able to access this route will have the flexibility to apply for work in any sector or role that fits their skills profile, including self-employment without the need for employer sponsorship,” she added.
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