Switch to Work Visa to Get Easier for International Students in UK
International students will soon be able to switch to skilled worker visa or the Tier-2 visa immediately after completing their course.
The upcoming year is set to bring good tidings for international students, including Indians, who are studying in the United Kingdom. The new immigration rules set to be introduced from Jan. 11, 2018, will make switching to work visas more flexible for foreign students pursuing higher education in the United Kingdom.
According to the new rules, international students can now switch to skilled worker visa or the Tier-2 visa immediately after completing their course, the Times of India reported. Tier 2 is the main immigration route for working in the United Kingdom and is meant for skilled workers with a job offer.
“The new rule will enable them to apply for a Tier-2 visa a few months earlier than what would otherwise have been possible,” said a newsletter by EY-UK, one of the big 4 business consultancies, the publication reported.
As per the current norms, students have to wait until they get a degree so that they can apply for a Tier-2 visa. This was too small a window for students to look for a job while they were in the United Kingdom. Currently, many foreign students holding a Tier-4 visa cannot switch to a Tier-2 visa as they have not yet obtained their degree and their student visa is about to expire.
This is because student visas, also known as Tier-4 visas, are granted for a long-term study course of more than 12 months, plus four months. This means that if an international student is unable to find a job within this window, they have to return to their home country.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan had earlier suggested that a poststudy work visa should be distinct from the Tier-2 route. It should enable students to work in the United Kingdom for 12-24 months, after graduation. Khan had highlighted the dwindling international student numbers and advocated a new category of post-study work visas.
For now, however, foreign students have to manage with a slight relaxation in the rules. Immigration experts see this change as the result of a prolonged dialogue between UK universities and the government.
International students have been advised by counselors to monitor the impact of Brexit on work visas for international students. It is speculated that post Brexit, competition for jobs in the United Kingdom from EU workers will ease, giving international students who have graduated from UK universities an advantage.
The United Kingdom announced on Dec.18 the extension of a pilot student visa scheme to 23 more universities. The new scheme will benefit many Indian and other non-European Union students. Under the scheme that was introduced last year on a pilot basis in four British universities, students are granted a period of six months to find a job after finishing their course.