UK Post-study Work Visa for International Students is Game-changing

In the midst of Brexit turmoil, the UK made a game-changing announcement of new post-study work visa allowing international students to stay in the UK for up to two years after graduation.

The new immigration route enables international students who have successfully completed a course in any subject at undergraduate level or higher to work, or look for work, at any skill level, giving them valuable work experience at the start of their careers. There will be no cap on the number of students who can apply for the new graduate route. Students who start courses in 2020/21 at undergraduate level or above will be able to benefit from the new route.

This announcement reverses a highly unpopular decision in 2012 to scrap the post-study work permit as part of the government’s efforts to curb immigration numbers. The previous decision directly impacted a segment of students seeking “value for money.”

These students mostly came from lower-middle income countries and aimed to recover a part of their investments by gaining work experience. One such example is India. UK lost most of the growth opportunity of Indian students to Australia, Canada, and New Zealand as they offered promising pathways for post-study work opportunities.

Data shows that between 2011 and 2016, UK experienced a decline of 56% in students from India. In contrast, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand grew by 229%, 144% and 100% in the same period.

The timing of this announcement is crucial as this is the beginning of the prime season for students to evaluate and apply for next year. At a time when China is stagnating/declining for many institutions, India was a promising bet, but this creates a new competitive challenge.

Even Australia may experience a significant impact especially from Low-income countries. Here is my quote in The Australian.

The US policies for student visas, immigration, and work opportunities must get its act together as the competition for the attracting the best and the brightest just got intense. US must wake-up to this competitive reality and make immigration and visa policies attractive not repulsive.

“… we’re allowing students to stay in the UK for longer post studies so we all benefit from the brightest and the best.” – tweeted PM @BorisJohnson