Two year post-study visa

The UK education sector is elated that post-study work rights are set to be offered to international students for two years post-graduation.

International students will be allowed to stay in the UK for two years after graduation to find a job, under new proposals announced by the Home Office.

The new “graduate route” will allow eligible students to work, or look for work, at any skill level, for a period of two years after completing their courses. There will be no cap on the number of students who can apply for the new route, which is expected to be available in summer 2021.

The move reverses a decision made in 2012 by then-Home Secretary Theresa May that forced overseas students to leave four months after finishing a degree.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the change would see students "unlock their potential" and begin careers in the UK.

The Department for Education said: “The new immigration route will be available to international students who have successfully completed a course in any subject at undergraduate level or higher at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance, and have Tier 4 [student visa] leave at the point the route is introduced. This includes students who start courses in 2020-21 at undergraduate level or above.”

The abolition of two-year post-study work visas in 2012 was seen by universities as a deterrent to international students, given that rival nations such as the US, Canada and Australia maintained such visas, and as a particular factor in the dramatic fall in the number of Indian students coming to the UK.

Sector reaction

Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “For too long the lack of post-study work opportunities in the UK has put us at a competitive disadvantage in attracting those students. We strongly welcome this policy change, which will put us back where we belong as a first-choice study destination.”