The Government has announced plans for a new immigration route to enable international students to work in the UK for two years after graduation. Students who have successfully completed a degree from a trusted UK university or higher education provider in any subject will be able to stay in the UK for two years to find work. If they meet the requirements they will then be able to switch onto a skilled work visa route.

Full details are yet to be released but it will be interesting to see how this new route compares to the Tier 1 Post Study Work route that was scrapped over seven years ago. The announcements claim “unlike the route which closed in 2012, this new route will also include safeguards to ensure only genuine, credible students are eligible.”

It is unclear when graduates will start benefiting from the new visa. So far we only have announcements and no legislation has been passed, so it will not assist those graduating in 2019. It appears the route will form part of our new immigration system from January 2021. The Government has said students enrolling in the 2020/21 academic year will benefit. However, there is uncertainty for those who enrolled earlier but will graduate in 2021.

Interestingly different announcements were made highlighting benefits for Indian and Chinese students. These highlighted the numbers coming to the UK. In the year ending June 2019, over 100,000 Chinese students came to the UK. There were also almost 22,000 student visas granted to Indian nationals. This is a 42% increase on the 2018 figure and almost 100% increase compared to 2016, so clearly this is a growing market for the UK education sector.

Whilst it is encouraging that the Government is taking steps to try and promote our higher education sector ahead of Brexit, it is disappointing that at a time when immigration policy seems to change on a daily basis, we only have advertising puff and no solid legislation upon which students might rely.

This article is from the September 2019 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals.