Earlier this week, Theresa May delivered a speech at the Policy Exchange on 'An Immigration System that Works in the National Interest'. As well as discussing the Government’s motivations, policies and achievements with respect to immigration, the Home Secretary reported a number of changes that will soon affect both Tier 4 sponsors and students alike.

One of the most significant changes that is expected to take effect from April 2013 will be to allow PhD students to stay in the UK for up to one year after the end of their studies. The purpose of this change is to encourage high calibre migrants to remain in the UK to take up skilled work or set up as entrepreneurs. Details of how this change will be implemented under the points based system and the conditions that will be apply have not yet been announced.

Following a successful pilot scheme, another initiative which will also begin in April is an increase in the number of interviews conducted with prospective Tier 4 students. The scheme will be conducted by entry clearance officers and will replace the usual paper-based checks for “considerably more than 100,000” Tier 4 applicants next year. The plan will roll-out first to applicants from the most high-risk countries, but is intended to eventually extend across all routes to Britain.

Finally, the Home Secretary promised to “continue to monitor strictly” sponsors to ensure that they are adhering to the rules and reiterated that the UKBA maintain their powers to suspend and revoke license where necessary.