The Government has announced that a new 2-year post study work visa for international students will be launched next year.
The new “Graduate” route will be open to all international students who have valid UK immigration status as a student and have completed a course of study in any subject at undergraduate level or above at an approved UK Higher Education Provider. The status will allow eligible students to work, or look for work, in any career or position of their choice, for two years after completing their studies.
The new scheme will launch for the 2020/21 intake of students to university. The first applications should therefore be expected in 2021 for graduates in Masters degrees.
After two years, successful applicants will be able to switch onto a skilled work visa, currently catered for under Tier 2 of the Points Based System, if they find a job that meets the skill requirements of the route.
The Government intends to publish further details of its plans for a new immigration framework for skilled workers, innovators, entrepreneurs and investors next year. The aim will be to launch the new post-Brexit immigration system in January 2021.
The re-introduction of the “post-study worker scheme” is to be welcomed. Economists and employers have argued for some time that opening up the UK labour market to the “brightest and best” graduates is the most sensible way of ensuring a supply of talent and skill into the UK labour market. This is particularly important in a post-Brexit context where there will no longer be a natural influx of talent and skills under the EU freedom of movement system.
The announcement is also a further indicator of a shift in tone on immigration policy from the new Government. Theresa May’s administration focussed heavily on reducing net migration and taking away “supply-side” immigration routes. She abolished the previous post-study scheme as Home Secretary in 2012 and she insisted on retaining international students as part of the net-migration figures despite the temporary nature of student status.
The new Government is preparing for a “one-world” immigration system, outside the dual arrangements that currently exist for EU and non-EU nationals, enabling the country to select the most attractive talent, skills and investment for its future role as “Global Britain”.