Government returns to pre-2012 policy that Theresa May called ‘too generous’
International students are to be offered a two-year work visa after graduating from a British university, the government will announce, overturning a key plank of Theresa May’s restrictive immigration policies.
Currently, graduates with bachelors or master’s degrees are allowed to look for work for only four months. From next year all international graduates could qualify for a two-year period to work in the UK, increasing their chances of finding long-term employment after studying.
The measure goes further than the Home Office’s latest immigration white paper, which proposed extending the four-month limit to six months and the limit for those with doctorates to a year.
Visa extension to boost numbers of overseas students in UK after Brexit
It is a return to the policy that was scrapped by the coalition government in 2012. Its members are braced for falling numbers of students from the EU in the event of Brexit.
Alistair Jarvis, the chief executive of Universities UK, said the previous visa regime put the UK at a “competitive disadvantage” in recruiting international students.
“The introduction of a two-year post-study work visa is something Universities UK has long campaigned for and we strongly welcome this policy change, which will put us back where we belong as a first-choice study destination,” Jarvis said. Government policy will prevent us from attracting them to live and work here.”
The Department for Education (DfE) said the new immigration route would be available to international students “who have successfully completed a course in any subject at undergraduate level or higher at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance, and have tier 4 [visa] at the point the route is introduced,” starting from next year.
The DfE said the route would allow students to look for work at any level, and allow them to later apply for longer-term work visas.