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Government Responds to MAC Review into Graduate Route

Government Responds to MAC Review into Graduate Route

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The Home Office has issued a statement responding to the MAC’s rapid review into the UK Graduate Route, which recommended retaining the route, citing no evidence of misuse of this visa category.

While the statement does not explicitly endorse the Graduate Route, the Home Office confirms that it will remain open, but would be kept under review due to concerns that it might not be attracting high earners who contribute to the economy. It also put forward a number of proposals that would impose stricter conditions “to tackle student visa abuse”, including introducing a mandatory framework for using agents, stricter compliance rules for educational institutions, and increased financial requirements for students.

 

Proposed Changes to the Graduate Route

 

Under the new proposals, universities must adhere to a “stringent framework” for agent-based recruitment. The Home Office noted that rogue agents threaten the immigration system by exploiting student and graduate visa holders. However, the British Council, BUILA, Universities UK International, and UKCISA have already collaborated on the voluntary Agent Quality Framework (AQF), launched last year. A Home Office spokesperson stated that the new proposals would make AQF registration mandatory, including quality controls, but it is not yet clear if the government will endorse the current AQF or amend it. 130 higher education institutions and six major pathway providers in the UK are currently signed up to the AQF Pledge.

In terms of compliance, stricter standards for education institutions recruiting international students will be enforced. Institutions failing to ensure their international students pass visa checks, enrol, or complete courses may face sponsor licence revocation.

Financial maintenance requirements will also be increased for Graduate route applicants, though details are yet to be provided. Currently, the requirement is £1,334 per month for up to nine months in London and £1,023 outside London. Some students from specific countries are exempt from providing evidence of funds.

A review to standardise English language assessments for student visas is also underway.

 

Need Assistance?

 

The Graduate route allows students to stay and work for two or three years post-graduation, but data on earnings and immigration paths remain limited as the scheme was only introduced in July 2021.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan stated that balancing immigration control and making the UK attractive to international students is crucial, supporting universities and attracting top talent. The government remains committed to the International Education Strategy. However, with the UK General Election taking place on 4th July, a change in government could result in the proposals being dropped, or different regulations being brought in.

DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists to the higher education sector. To discuss the current focus on student and graduate visas, or any aspect of student immigration and compliance for your institution, contact us.

 

Author

Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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