Regulations for UK Graduate Visas could change soon. According to a new proposal, Indian graduates who cannot find employment within six months of receiving their degree would have to leave the nation.
According to a UK media report on Wednesday, British Home Secretary Suella Braverman and the country’s education department are at odds over proposals to reduce the amount of time that international students are permitted to stay in the country on post-study visas.
Under Braverman’s proposed assessment, it is anticipated that the new Graduate Visa route, which gives foreign graduates—including Indians—the opportunity to remain on to look for employment and gain experience for up to two years without the necessity of a concrete job offer, will be reduced.
The Times reports that the home secretary, who is of Indian descent, has developed a proposal to “reform” the Graduate Visa pathway, requiring students to either secure a work visa by finding a skilled job or leave the UK after six months. The UK Department for Education (DfE) is attempting to oppose the reforms because they believe they will reduce the UK’s appeal to international students, according to a report in the newspaper using leaked advice.
According to a government source supporting Braverman’s proposal, students taking short courses at “less respectable universities” are increasingly using the Graduate Visa. According to the insider, “it’s being used as a backdoor immigration route.”
The DfE contends that the two-year Graduate Visa, also known as the UK’s post-study offer, was comparable to most of Britain’s top competitors, with the exception of the US, which only offered a one-year visa.
Recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that Indians surpassed Chinese students as the largest cohort last year and that Indians dominated the new Graduate Visa route, introduced in July 2021, accounting for 41% of the visas awarded.
According to reports, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ordered the Home Office and the DfE to submit plans for lowering the number of international students coming to the UK. Braverman’s proposal is apparently one of many that were developed in response.
According to statistics released last week, there are 680,000 foreign students studying in the UK. The 600,000 student target set forth in the government’s 2019 Higher Education Strategy was attained last year.
Another idea under consideration would apparently only permit international students enrolled in postgraduate research-based courses, such as a PhD, or postgraduate programmes lasting at least two years to bring dependant family members with them.
The UK Home Office declined to comment on the leak, but a spokesperson for the administration said: “Our points-based system is designed to be flexible according to the UK’s needs, including attracting top-class talent from across the world to contribute to the UK’s excellent academic reputation and to help keep our universities competitive on the world stage.”
“We keep all our immigration policies under constant review to ensure they best serve the country and reflect the public’s priorities,” the spokesperson said.
The proposal from Braverman comes as India and the UK are negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA). Six rounds of FTA discussions came to an end in December 2022.
Meanwhile, the FTA would not include any increase in the number of free movement visa offers for Indians, as British Trade Minister Kemi Badenoch reiterated on Sunday, January 22. Contrarily, the UK-Australia FTA permits Australians under the age of 35 to reside and work there for up to three years.
The Young Professionals Scheme, which would permit graduates and experienced professionals between the ages of 18 and 30 to live, work, and study in the UK for two years, was announced by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in November 2022. The India-UK Young Professionals Scheme will be launched on February 28, 2023, according to a recent official release.
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