Having won 56 seats during the UK election in May, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has become the third-largest political party in the House of Commons. The party is now lobbying the UK government to reintroduce the Tier 1 Post-Study Work Visa for non-EU international students.
With representation from all the political parties in Scotland, a new group has been formed to work towards bringing back the visa. Humza Yousaf, the Scottish minister for Europe and international development will head up the group and assess how the visa can work best for Scotland.
Tier 1 PSW Abolished
Before being abolished by the UK government on April 6, 2012, the Tier 1 Post-Study Work Visa allowed overseas students from outside of the EU to stay in the UK for an additional two years following graduation from a UK university. The visa had a particularly good record for attracting world-class talent to Scotland and persuading them to stay in the country.
Mr Yousaf has recently contacted the UK immigration minister, James Brokenshire, urging him to take into account Scotland's needs and the fact that there is cross-party support for reinstating the Post-Study Work Visa.
Mr Yousaf said: "Once again, I have written to the UK government requesting that they work constructively with the Scottish government, and our stakeholders, for the best interests of Scotland and allow us to bring back the Post-Study Work Visa."
He added: "The Scottish government voiced its opposition to the abolition of the visa and has since argued for it to be reinstated. The Post-Study Work route has widespread support among cross-party groups in Scotland. It serves to attract the brightest and best overseas students and maintains global competitiveness, while securing essential revenue for higher education institutions and colleges throughout Scotland."
He also said that he's in constant contact with the UK government to explore every possible avenue concerning the reintroduction of a Post-Study Work Visa for Scotland.
Fresh Talent Scheme
Prior to the introduction of the Tier 1 Post Study Work Visa on 29 June 2008, Scotland operated the Fresh Talent Scheme. Thanks to this Scottish scheme 3,000 Indian graduates were able to stay in Scotland after completing their studies. It was largely due to the success of the Scottish Fresh Talent Scheme that Tier 1 PSW was launched to enable non-EEA overseas UK University graduates studying throughout the UK to remain in the UK.
The founder of Cobra Beer and the chancellor of the University of Birmingham, Lord Bilimoria said: "The Fresh Talent Scheme had been introduced back in 2005 with the rest of the UK following. Therefore, there isn't any reason why it can't start again even the rest of the UK doesn't join in."
However, Mr Bilimoria - who is known to be critical of the Conservative's immigration policies - added that bringing back a Post-Study Work route in any form would prove challenging because immigration laws have to be uniform across the whole of the UK.
He said: "As things stand, the UK government is showing no signs of easing UK immigration policy, with overseas students still included in the strict targets that the government has set. If Scotland is able to bring back the Post-Study Work Visa Indian students, other international students and Scottish universities will benefit."
Mr Yousaf says that the return of the Post-Study Work Visa will help Scotland by increasing the working age population, so helping to support and strengthen the country's economy.
"Scotland must be in a position to attract and keep world-class talent, filling vacancies that the country is unable to fill via the resident workforce. The Post-Study Work Visa is crucial to attracting top student talent from overseas," he said.
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