Proposed plans to change the Graduate visa
It has been suggested that the Home Office is looking at shortening the amount of leave granted under the Graduate visa. Under proposed plans, the Graduate visa may be changed to only allow people to stay in the UK for six months, compared to the current leave of 2 years. If this goes ahead it would reduce the attractiveness of the UK to international students and we may see prospective students go to places like Australia where international students can work for up to 4 years after their graduation. For this reason, we don’t believe that these proposed changes to the Graduate visa will be implemented and indeed the Higher Education sector have made their feelings clear to the government that this proposal will be damaging to the UK economy.
UK industry is also concerned about these proposals particularly as many businesses are relying on the Graduate visa as part of their people strategy to recruit, train and develop new talent. This is particularly so in sectors where an element of training in industry is required before the person qualifies in their job, such as opticians, pharmacists and solicitors.
We will update you should announcements be made.
Dependents of international students
As you will be aware, international students are able to bring their dependents to the UK and if a student is studying a degree level course or higher then their dependents can work in the UK full time without requiring sponsorship. Again, the Home Secretary has uttered her concerns about the number of international students bringing their dependents to the UK. Ministers are understood to be looking at ways to tighten the rules, which allow students to bring in a spouse and any dependent children, as long as they can support themselves.
Whilst we are skeptical as to whether the government will go through with their proposed plans, one thing we are sure of is the need for the government to be in agreement as to what their priorities and messages are in relation to migration. We cannot have a government which wants to encourage international students to work, yet at the same time force them to go back home after their studies. Nor can we have a government which fails to act on, and even acknowledge, the reasons for the labour shortages in Britain. That said, successive governments have always made it clear that they will always protect the resident workforce over migrants and that if economic reasons necessitate, they will always scrap policies or tighten the rules on visas that allow migrants to work in the UK.
What is clear is the positive contribution that international students make to the UK economy. According to the Higher Education Policy institute they generate an annual surplus of £26bn to the UK economy and international student tuition fees are vital to universities, possibly helping to keep many departments open. Also, at a time when the UK is embarking on signing trade deals across the world the Government should not ignore the soft power of British university education and the connections this brings for the country.
As always, we will keep you updated on these proposed plans.
How can Paragon Law help?
If you require assistance with any of the issues raised, then please get in touch with us to speak to a corporate immigration solicitor.