The UK government has published its long-awaited immigration White Paper, which outlines changes to student visa rules that would extend the length of time international bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD students have to stay and find work in the country after graduating.
The White Paper has also indicated – pending full review by spring – that the min. salary threshold to be able to access the jobs market could be £30,000, but importantly, graduate entry jobs would be subject to a lower (unspecified) salary threshold requirement and relaxed rules for employers keen to hire them.
Following the recent MAC report on students, the government outlined its “skills-based” immigration plans and announced it intends to improve the current offer to students.
All students who have completed a degree and wish to stay on in the UK to work can benefit from six months’ post-study leave – this is a step farther than the MAC recommendations to enable this at master’s level only; the government made this tweak at bachelor’s level too.
Those who have completed a PhD will have 12 months.
The proposals will also ensure there is no limit on the number of “genuine international students” who can come to the UK to study.
“We will also allow for students studying at bachelor’s level or above to be able to apply to switch into the skilled workers route up to three months before the end of their course in the UK, and from outside of the UK for two years after their graduation,” the paper details.
“We should be more welcoming to students in this country,” UK home secretary Sajid Javid told the BBC.
“Not just to come and study in our great universities, but those that then graduate and get these great skills from fantastic universities, we should make it easier for them to stay in the UK and to work, and in that case the salary threshold will be a lot lower.”
Vivienne Stern, director of Universities UK International, said UK universities would be pleased to see the announcement “clearly recognizes” the important contributions that international students make to the country.
“Allowing graduates to stay on for longer to find work in the UK sends the message that international students are welcome here, and we value the skills they bring,” she noted.
“Universities will continue to campaign for a new, two-year, post-study work visa and we are encouraged to see that the government is willing to make change in this area.”
According to Russell Group head of policy, Jessica Cole, allowing international graduates to remain in the UK for up to six months after completing their studies is a “step in the right direction”.
“Lengthening the period further would help the UK keep up with our international competitors, such as Canada and Australia,” Cole said.