In 2012, during Theresa May's term as Home Secretary, the UK ended its two-year PSW (post-study work) visa. The coalition government had scrapped the policy and Theresa had said that the two-year post-study work visa was “too generous”. This resulted in a huge drop in the number of Indian students going to Britain for higher studies. From 51,218 in 2010-2011, the number dropped to 22,757 in 2011-2012 and further to 15,388 in 2017-2018. However, yesterday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the return of the two-year post-study work visa for international students. This comes as good news for Indian students as it will increase their chances of finding long-term employment.
At present, Indian or international students pursuing any degree (bachelor's or master's) can only stay in the UK for as little as four months after graduation, and those who are under a pilot scheme that covers 27 universities can stay up to six months.
Next year (2020-21) onwards, the visa will allow eligible Indian students to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, in any career or position of their choice, for two years after completing their studies.
The new Graduate Route will be open to all Indians who have valid UK immigration status as a student, have completed a course in any subject at the undergraduate or a higher level at a government-approved educational institution, and have tier-4 visa (issued to study in the UK) at the time of this route's introduction.
Priti Patel, Home Secretary and the senior-most Indian-origin member of Johnson's cabinet, said, "The new Graduate Route will mean talented international students, whether in science and maths or technology and engineering, can study in the UK and then gain valuable work experience as they go on to build successful careers."
"It demonstrates our global outlook and will ensure that we continue to attract the best and the brightest," she added.
There is no cap on the number of students who can apply for the new Graduate Route. The students would be allowed to apply for jobs regardless of their skills or the subject they studied.
The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, said that international students contribute to both the culture and the economy. “The important contribution international students make to our country and universities is both cultural and economic. Their presence benefits Britain, which is why we’ve increased the period of time these students can remain in the UK after their studies."
“Our universities thrive on being open global institutions. Introducing the graduate route ensures our prestigious higher education sector will continue to attract the best talent from around the world to global Britain," he added.
Universities UK, which represents 130 institutions, welcomed the announcement. Alistair Jarvis, their chief executive, said, “The introduction of a two-year post-study work visa is something Universities UK has long campaigned for and we strongly welcome this policy change, which will put us back where we belong as a first-choice study destination. Not only will a wide range of employers now benefit from access to talented graduates from around the world, but these students will also hold lifelong links with the UK.”
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