In a move that has been welcomed by the education sector, the Government has announced that it is to reintroduce a post-study work visa for international students studying in the UK.
The announcement can be found on gov.uk and, whilst lacking in detail, it does confirm that the new route will mean that:
‘international graduates in any subject, including STEM, will be able to stay in the UK for two years to find work’.
Potential implementation date
There is no information in the announcement regarding when the change will be implemented but UKCISA is reporting the following:
‘For clarification, we’ve had the following confirmed from the Home Office:
- Any international student who will complete their course in or after the summer of 2021 will be eligible to apply for the new two year Graduate route.
- Unfortunately the Graduate route will not be open to those who have completed their studies or are due to complete them in the summer of 2020.’
Who may benefit?
The announcement states that, in order to benefit, students will need to ‘have successfully completed a degree from a trusted UK university or higher education provider which has a proven track record in upholding immigration checks and other rules on studying in the UK.’
What does ‘a proven track record’ mean?
At the moment, only education providers that are a) registered with the Office for Students and b) hold a Tier 4 sponsor licence are able to establish that they have a track record of compliance. Establishing such a track record triggers access to privileges for international students they sponsor.
The requirements for establishing a track record are set out in Document 4 of the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance.
The education provider must meet the following two tests:
- They must have passed a Home Office ‘Basic Compliance Assessment’ (BCA) for four consecutive years. Each year via the BCA the Home Office checks the providers international student enrolment and course completion rates (as defined in Document 3 of the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance) and also checks how many students to whom the provider has issued a CAS have been refused permission to enter or remain in the UK. A provider that does not pass its annual BCA risks its sponsor licence being revoked.
- They must also have met the Home Office’s rules on ‘Educational Oversight’ (which are designed to assess educational quality via a Home Office approved third party) consistently for four consecutive years.
At the moment, an international student who is studying with a sponsor that has access to full privileges may receive (depending on when their sponsorship began) enhanced conditions of stay and may be able to:
- work for a certain number of hours per week;
- make applications to extend their stay under Tier 4 from inside the UK;
- bring their dependants to the UK.
Sponsors whose students have access to the full privileges are also able to self-assess the English language ability of students they sponsor.
Being able to work for two years following the completion of study may therefore be added to the list of privileges.
Will a new application be needed
We understand that students will need to make a new application to enter the two year route and that the Home Office intends that the criteria will be straightforward.
This announcement is extremely positive news and we very much hope that the Home Office will release details quickly.
We appreciate that international students will be keen for further news on this. Unfortunately, as with other organisations working in the education sector, we are unable to provide any further information until the Government releases further details. We will update our website as soon as further details are announced.