Post Study Work Visa UK To Be Reinstated
International students in the UK are to be allowed to stay and work for up to two years after they graduate, under a proposed change to the UK immigration rules welcomed by UK universities and industry alike.
The Home Office announcement yesterday comes as the Government attempts to distance itself from Theresa May’s succession of ‘hostile environment’ immigration policies. The UK had previously offered a Post Study Work Visa UK for graduates offering the two-year right to work after completing studies. This was removed in 2012 despite concerns from UK education and employers that removing the visa and diminishing the UK’s appeal among international students would be harmful to the UK economy.
What do we know about the post study work visa?
Full detail is yet to come out of the Home Office, but from the initial announcements, it is understood the new route will be open to Tier 4 visa students enrolling for the 2020/2021 academic year.
The visa will be open to students of all subjects and disciplines. To be eligible, students will have to have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a UK higher education institution that can show a track record in immigration checks.
Graduates will be free to use the two years to find a job and to work, with no restrictions on the type or skill level of the role.
There will also be no cap on the number of post-study work visas available.
Graduates will also be able to switch in-country from the post-study work visa to the Tier 2 skilled visa, where they meet the criteria.
What does the post-study work visa mean for universities?
The higher education sector has long raised concerns about the need to safeguard the UK’s appeal among international students. Removing the two-year right to work has impacted universities who have missed out on students to countries such as Canada that have offered more attractive opportunities for students to transition from education into work.
It is hoped reinstating the post-study work visa will send the message that the UK wants international students to come to study and to stay and build a career.
What does the post study work visa mean for employers?
The new route is intended to open up the UK job market to international graduates and employers are expected to adjust their entry-level recruitment and graduate programmes to take full advantage of the new rules.
We are working with employers to ready their graduate recruitment strategies and career development programmes, including support with sponsor licences to enable organisations to hire graduates under the Tier 2 skilled worker route, guidance on use of specialist routes such as the Tier 1 exceptional talent visa and support with developing employer branding to ensure appeal among this highly talented cohort.
What does the post study work visa mean for Tier 4 students?
Tier 4 visa holders have to ensure they apply to extend their leave in the UK and avoid overstaying past their visa expiry. Under the current rules, Tier 4 students could consider the following options, but must in all cases be mindful of the timing to ensure they remain the UK with lawful status.
Extending your Tier 4 visa
You may be eligible to apply to extend your existing Tier 4 visa, either to continue a course or start a new one, but you must be sponsored by the course provider and the application has to be made within strict timescales.
Tier 2 (General) visa
The current immigration options for students to remain in the UK and work post-Tier 4 are limited. To stay by reason of employment, in most cases the Tier 2 (General) visa will be required. If you can find employment with a licensed sponsor, the Tier 2 visa will permit you to work in the UK for up to five years with the potential to settle indefinitely. While this is the most common route for non-EEA workers to work in the UK, it is highly restrictive in eligibility criteria for the applicant, the role and the employer.
Exceptional Talent visa & tech schemes
The tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is aimed at applicants who can meet high technical and skill requirements, and offer more relaxed eligibility criteria, such as language ability, compared with other visas. Take up is mostly in the tech sector, but applications are open to other fields such as architects.
Specialist sector schemes may also be available, so it best to take advice on what is currently available for your profession.
Start up visa
Introduced in March 2019, the Start Up visa will allow Tier 4 visa holders to switch in-country to set up their first enterprise in the UK. The visa is available for a maximum of two years, after which point the visa holder will either have to apply to switch to another visa category, such as the Innovator visa, where they can continue to develop their business.
For the Start Up visa, applicants must first apply to be endorsed by an approved Home Office body, which includes certain universities and business accelerator groups, by demonstrating their business is viable and by providing a business case. Only with endorsement can you proceed with applying to the Home Office for the visa.
Tier 1 Investor visa
Whether applying as an undergraduate or post-graduate, you will need to meet one of three levels of investment under the Tier 1 investor visa and there are strict rules on the type of investments you can make to be eligible.
Family relationship basis
A number of options may be available to you based on your relationship to a family member or under the long-term relationship rules such as civil partnership and spouse visas. The rules are strict however to deter fraudulent applications, and eligibility will depend on your personal circumstances including meeting strict financial requirements.
Do you have a question about the new post study work visa or your post study visa options?
DavidsonMorris specialise in UK immigration. Contact us with any queries about your visa options to remain in the UK after study, or if you are an employer looking to hire international graduates.