In 2012 the government abolished Tier 1 post-study work visas. This was motivated by a general frustration with migrants exploiting student visas as a way of prolonging their stay in the UK and entering the labour market.
In order to obtain a Tier 4 (General) Student visa, prospective students must currently satisfy an exhaustive list of personal and course requirements. Applicants must have been offered a place on a course and demonstrate enough money to support themselves. They are also restricted from working more that 20 hours per week. The length of time they are allowed to remain in the UK after graduation is dependent on the type and length of the course of study. For example, students who have graduated from a 3-year course may be able to stay for a maximum of 4 months from the end of their course.
If graduates hope to work in the UK they must secure a separate visa that will enable them to do so. The type of visa that graduates may apply for is dependent on whether they can secure employment with an employer who is able to sponsor them. For a General Tier 2 work visa an applicant’s employer must sponsor their application. This means that the graduate must already have obtained a job offer and in most cases must also be paid at least £20,800 per year or what is stated in the appropriate Home Office soc code, whichever is higher. The appropriate salary requirement would be a challenge for any recent graduate. These hurdles often deter international graduates from applying to work in the UK, although new recommendations hope to change this.
There is concern that restrictions on post student visas are damaging the UK’s position as the second largest destination for international students after the US. In a Guardian article published on Tuesday, Lord Bilimoria emphasised the importance of international students to the UK economy . He argued that “these bright, talented and qualified students” contribute to our financial sector, tech start-ups, high value manufacturing and art industries, and it is these industries that keep the UK punching above its weight in global economics and innovation.
In light of this, the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Students Inquiry Report has made various recommendations to the Government. In summary, it recommends:
- The government should set an international student recruitment target and remove students from net migration statistics. This means that student visas would not be restricted by immigration targets set out by the government;
- The government should offer post-study work visas that are unrestricted by job type or salary. They recommend a visa that would be valid for two years work experience after graduation;
- The Government should seek a special deal with the EU that allows unrestricted movement of students and researchers;
- The Immigration Rules should be widened to encourage students at multiple levels;
- The promotion and protection of small specialist vocational and further education providers;
- A review of the interview process for student immigration to ensure that it does not limit diversity;
- Protect local courses and institutions and encourage work experience schemes and industry engagement;
- The government should include education as part of their trade strategy and should accurately track education data.
These recommendations are in line with concerns voiced by universities and scientists who fear a ‘brain drain’ effect after the UK formally exits the EU. Whether the government is willing to implement these recommendations in the light of the impending end of free movement to the UK remains to be seen.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.