UK Relaxes Rules For International Students To Obtain Work Visas

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Thanks to new immigration rules to be implemented from January 11th, students studying in the United Kingdom will be able to easily obtain a work visa after completion of their studies.

According to the new rules, students can apply for the Tier-2 visa, also known as the ‘skilled worker visa’, as soon as they complete their course. As per the existing rules, students have to wait till they obtain their degree to apply for the Tier-2 visa, giving them a small window to apply for a job in the UK.

Immigration experts believe that this change is the result of a prolonged dialogue between UK universities and the government. Since student visas, known as Tier-4 visas, are granted for the duration of the course and an additional few months, it interfered with the ability of international students to look for jobs in the UK. For instance, a Tier-4 visa for a long-term study course (more than 12 months) is granted for the course duration, plus four months. If international students are unable to find a job within this time frame, they were forced to return to their home country. Thus, currently, many students holding a Tier-4 visa are unable to switch to a Tier-2 visa because they have not yet obtained their degree and their student visa is about to expire.

Students opting for higher education, such as a PG degree, had to wait for their thesis to be marked or a degree to be awarded after completing their course, to apply for a work visa. A newsletter by EY-UK, one of the big 4 business consultancies said, “The new rule will enable them to apply for a Tier-2 visa a few months earlier than what would otherwise have been possible”.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also pushed for the cause, advocated for a new category of post-study work visas, which allowed international students to work in the UK for 12-24 months after receiving their degree.

Earlier this month, the UK government announced extension of a pilot student visa scheme to 23 more universities under which Indian and other non-EU students will get six months to find a job after finishing their course. The scheme was introduced last year in four British varsities – Oxford University, Cambridge University, Bath University, and Imperial College London.

As per the scheme, students who wish to switch to a work visa and take up a graduate role are allowed to remain in the UK for six months after they have finished their course. Universities taking part in the scheme are responsible for eligibility check. This means that students have to submit fewer documents than required in the current process alongside their visa applications.

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