Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced reintroduction of two-year post-study work visa for international students studying in British universities by two years, in a move abrogating Theresa May's strict immigration policies. The policy was scrapped in 2012 by the coalition government. May, the then home secretary, said the two-year post-study work visa was “too generous”.
The Prime Minister announced this as one of the government measures to attract more overseas students after Brexit. At present, the graduates with bachelors degrees or above are allowed to stay for four months to search for jobs. From next year onwards, all international graduates could qualify for a two-year period to work in the UK, increasing their chances of finding long-term employment after studying. Under the new policy, the visas would have no cap on numbers and would allow graduates to apply for jobs regardless of their skills or the subject they studied. The government said part of the aim was to recruit talented graduates in disciplines such as maths, engineering and technology.
Announcing the strategy, the Department for Education (DfE) said, "There is no limit on the number of international students that can study in the UK. To ensure, UK continues to attract and welcome them, the post-study leave period will be extended to six months for undergraduate and master's students, and a year for doctoral students." The announcement said the government would consider "how the visa process could be improved for applicants and supporting student employment."
The DfE said the new immigration route would be open to international students “who have successfully completed a course in any subject at undergraduate level or higher at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance, and have tier 4 [visa] at the point the route is introduced,” starting from next year. “Those on the route will be able to switch on to the skilled work route if they find a job which meets the skill requirement of the route,” the DfE added.
Universities in UK, which represents 130 institutions, upheld government's decision enthusiastically, with its members braced for falling numbers of students from the EU in the event of Brexit. Last year, UK universities graduated around 460,000 international students, not including those from within the EU. The government aims to increase the number to 600,000 over the next 10 years.