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New Post Study Work route.

Boris Johnson announced yesterday that international graduates in any subject would be able to stay in the UK for 2 years after completion of their degree in order to find work. The announced requirements are that students will have to have successfully completed a degree level course from a trusted UK university or higher education provider which has a proven record in immigration checks on studying in the UK. Practically, this is likely to be Tier 4 licence holders, a list of which is available here. 

The announcement states that the purpose of the change is to help recruit and retain the best and brightest global talent.

The Change sounds familiar to Immigration Lawyers

Many people will note that this route sounds extremely familiar. The post study work route previously existed but was scrapped by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary in 2012 at a time when the whole of the immigration system was dramatically overhauled.

When the Tier 1 post study work route existed prior to 2012 there were very few requirements that had to be met. These requirements were that the applicant held maintenance funds, had completed their degree and met English language requirements. Some applicants fell foul of the requirement that the maintenance funds had to be held by the applicant themselves and could not be held by the applicant’s parents, as is possible when studying as a Tier 4 (General) student.

Reaction from the Global Immigration Community

The announcement has received applause from a lot of sources. Universities who attract foreign students, who pay much higher rates than home students, have supported the announcement. Nations such as India that previously came to the UK in order to study and then ultimately moved to other routes have veered away in recent years from applying to study University level degrees in the UK and moved more to countries that do offer routes to stay in the country following completion of the degree, such as Australia and Canada. Around 70% of UK international students come from non-EU countries, with China being the largest source country by a considerable margin.

Options moving forward – that an Immigration Solicitor can help with.

So what options are there for international students that come to the UK to study and how will the new PSW route change that?

Currently a person studying with leave as a Tier 4 (General) Student can switch categories at the end of their visa provided the new category allows for this. A common route is for Tier 4 (General) students to switch into Tier 2 which are work visas. The Tier 2 route allows licensed employers to employ foreign nationals where there are no British or settled workers to fill the role. In most instances, if hiring from overseas, this will mean that the employer has to obtain a Tier 2 licence and advertise the available role for a minimum period. This advertisement is known as the resident labour market test. If no British or settled workers are found then the employer can take on migrant workers.

Where a migrant is in the UK already with leave as a Tier 4 (General) Student and has completed their degree then the employer does not have to undertake a resident labour market test for the student, they just need to ensure that the correct steps are taken in order to switch the student’s leave to Tier 2 leave to remain.

The reintroduction of the PSW route will allow students more time in the UK in which to speak with potential employers or consider other immigration routes that may be open to them.

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