New Delhi: Easing immigration norms to allow international students, including that from India to work after completion of studies, the United Kingdom on Wednesday announced a new two-year, post-study work visa regime to give them enough time to look for jobs. The move is going to benefit Indian students in a big way as 32 per cent of the total Tier 2 (Work Visa) in the UK is taken by Indians.
“This is a very positive news for Indian students . The new route will allow them more time to look for work and there is no restriction on the type or level of work they can do. New norms will benefit students who are finishing their courses next summer,” said Jan Thomson, British deputy high commissioner to India.
The UK is facing a shortage of professionals in various sectors leading to easing out of restrictions on hiring. British High Commission (BHC) officials said that specialists in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), architecture, web design are much needed in the UK.
In 2012, then UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced new immigration rules, cutting down post-education stay for international students by giving them only four to six month’s time to look for jobs. This had led to huge fall in the number of international students applying in UK universities, particularly from India.
However, through the new immigration rules, the UK is expecting to made amends and attract more international students. Ms Thomson added that the British government has removed restrictions having like Ph.D degree for Tier 2 visa, which is popular among Indian students. Tier 2 is the main immigration route for working in the UK and is for skilled workers with a job offer. “Of all Tier 2 visas, we offer 32 per cent to India,” she added.
Britain is reviewing its broader immigration system. Recently they had announced Innovator and Start-up visa routes. “Today’s announcement is part of progressive reforms trends. It has not come suddenly. For the past 12 months, things were being worked out,” Ms Thomson added.
By 2030, the UK is hoping to attract nearly 6 lakh international students. BHC officials said that in November about 50 universities of UK will be touring to India in this regard.
The “graduate route” will provide an opportunity for international students who have been awarded their degree to stay and work in the UK at any skill level for two years. Graduates will also be able to switch into skilled work once they have found a suitable job. Students entering the UK in the 2020-21 academic year will be eligible for this route.
The visa will be two years long and would be a separate visa, requiring a new application (including payment of a visa fee) and payment of the Immigration Health Surcharge. “The route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement. However, graduates who find an appropriate job and meet the requirements will be able to switch into skilled work, which is a route to settlement. Those who graduate and whose leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible for it,” the UK government said.
According to the British High Commission, in the year ending June 2019, almost 22,000 Indian students obtained a Tier 4 Study Visa. Overall, over 6 lakh Indian nationals were granted a UK visa last year, which means 1 in 5 of all visas went to Indians.