This is good news for all those new international graduates completing their studies in the 2020-2021 academic year and wishing to remain in the United Kingdom for work.

The new visa will be eligible for those international students who have finished an applicable course at a recognized UK college of higher education. Even those competing in online poker tournaments in their spare time may be eligible.  This new route will mean that graduating students will not need a job offer in order to apply for the visa.

Young people from India have better opportunities for studies in the UK and the UK continues to be a very attractive place for international students in general. Government statistics for the year ending March 2020 showed that 257,000 students arrived in the UK for studies.

The post-study work visa

The new post-study work visa will be a huge benefit for students from India who wish to stay in the UK when they have completed their studies.  United Kingdom Home Secretary, Priti Patel announced this new graduate route visa last year.  This was part of the Home Secretary’s new points-based immigration regime following Brexit, and in line with the Immigration Rules that were proposed in Parliament.  It will be possible to apply for this visa from the 1st of July.

Kevin Foster, the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration says “As we rebuild from the global pandemic, we want the world’s brightest talent, who aspire to a career at the highest levels of business, science, the arts and technology to see our United Kingdom as the natural place to fulfil their aspirations”.

He goes on to say, “The changes announced today will ensure once they have received a gold standard qualification from one of our world leading education institutions, they can easily secure the status they need to continue living, working and fulfilling their dreams in the UK.”

Students who were affected by the pandemic, and were unable to travel and had to learn remotely now have until 21st June to be actually present in the UK in order to be eligible to apply.  The deadline for applying was until April but has now been extended.  Students whose studies began this past January or February 2021 need to be physically in the UK by September 27th.

Barbara Wickham, director India, British Council, reports that “The UK is committed to supporting thousands of Indian students in their dreams to pursue a world-class UK education and post study employment opportunities. Given the pandemic travel restrictions, these new timelines to reach the UK will help ensure international students are able to benefit from the Graduate Route and gain coveted international work experience.”

She added that, “Indian students are encouraged to reach out to their universities and seek regular guidance on blended learning, recommended time to travel to the UK, and on any other support required on campus.”

Rules and guidelines for applying

In order to apply under this new graduate route, it is a requirement that international students have “completed an eligible course at a recognized UK higher education provider at an undergraduate or higher level.”  It will be possible for all students under this route to engage in work or to find work after completing their studies for a period of two years maximum, or for Doctoral PhD students a maximum of three years.

Because the graduate route does not require a sponsor, students are able to apply for this route without having an offer of work. No minimum salary is stipulated or required and no quotas on numbers either.

According to the Home Office this will allow more flexibility for students in their work options and helps them develop their careers as needed.  The UK government is aiming to increase the total amount of international students involved in the higher education system in the United Kingdom to 600,000 by the year 2030. The new route is part and parcel of this plan.

At the same time Rishi Sunak, the UK Chancellor recently revealed plans, in his speech in the House of Commons, to introduce another novel immigration route.  This scheme aims to help new start- ups and fast-growing companies to find and employ the right people they need to develop their businesses in order to grow.   This new route will enable migrants that are highly skilled to accept job offers from recognized fast-growing companies, and therefore qualify for a visa, without needing to find a sponsor or a third party to endorse them.

A news agency PTI reported that according to Sanam Arora, Chair of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU-UK), a representative group for Indian students in the UK “We campaigned for this in the UK for more than six years and this was a commitment we made to our Indian student community, which we are overjoyed to have been able to deliver.”

The latest statistics reveal that the number of visas issued to Indian students increased by around 42 percent in comparison to the year before bringing the number to 53,000. This figure corresponds to 23 percent of the total number of student visas issued in the UK, an increase of 13 percent from the previous year.  This means that students from India are among the biggest international groups learning in Britain.

Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner to India said “The flow of students between India and the UK makes the human connection between our countries – the ‘living bridge’ – ever stronger.  I’m delighted that increasing numbers of talented India students are choosing the UK to study, and even more so that the Graduate route will allow them to work in the UK after their studies.  Their presence is the heart of the new partnership between India and the UK.”