The entry deadline to qualify for the new UK post-study work (PSW) visa has been extended. The move has been welcomed by Indian students - the largest group of international students enrolling at UK universities. The PSW visa, allows overseas students to work, or look for work, for two years after completing their studies.
The revamped PSW visa was announced by Home Secretary, Priti Patel, in 2020 and is set to open for applications in July 2021. Under the visa application requirements, students taking their courses online and off-campus because of the COVID-19 pandemic were expected to be in the UK by 21 June to qualify for a post-study work visa.
However, the Home Office recently amended its guidance to extend the 21 June deadline to 27 September.
An excerpt from the updated Home Office guidance states: “Applicants who began their studies in Autumn 2020 have until 27 September 2021, to enter the UK with permission as a student (updated from the previous date of 21 June, 2021) in order to be eligible to apply to the graduate route.”
“Students who began their studies in January or February 2021 will need to be in the UK by 27 September, 2021, the guidance added.
The National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU) has been among many student representatives campaigning for an extension to the PSW visa entry deadline ever since India was placed on the UK’s red list on 23 April, which bans travel from India into the UK, amid a spike in Delta variant COVID infections.
While Indian students with a UK student visa are permitted to fly to Britain, many have had to postpone their plans amid the health impact on India’s second coronavirus wave, plus the additional cost burden of £1,750 that comes with having to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel upon arriving in the UK.
Home Office pushed to extend
NISAU’s UK chair, Sanam Arora, said: “Since India’s entry onto the red list a few months ago, NISAU has been requesting the Home Office to consider an extension of the 21 June 2021 entry deadline for Indian students to be in the UK as a condition of eligibility for the graduate route.”
“We are delighted that the Home Office has accepted our request and know that this will significantly help many students who are unable to travel given the COVID situation in India right now. Huge sigh of relief,” Arora added.
According to the most recent Home Office data, there was an increase of 6,391 study visa grants in the year ending March 2021 – representing a 13% rise compared with the previous year.
Director of the British Council of India, Barbara Wickham, said: “As Indian students plan to travel back to the UK, we encourage them to connect with their universities; and follow the travel rules for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as applicable.”
Meanwhile, Universities UK International (UUKi), an organisation that represents 146 universities, has advised international students holding out for a UK university offer to contact their institution to find out the latest plans for starting their studies in September.
UUKi director Vivienne Stern, said: “Indian students planning to travel to the UK should also ensure to keep on top of the latest policies, both in the UK and their home countries, regarding travel to the UK to ensure they are well prepared.”
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