Two-year post-study work visa to be reintroduced for international students

Plans to reintroduce a two-year post-study work visa for international students in the UK have been welcomed by universities and the Scottish Government.

The Department for Education (DfE) told The Guardian that graduates will be allowed to seek work for two years after completing a course in any subject at undergraduate level or higher “at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance”.

Graduates are currently only allowed to seek work for four months after graduating, under rules introduced under then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2012.

Mrs May had said the two-year post-study work visa was “too generous”, but her decision was blamed for a sharp decline in international student enrolments.

Richard Lochhead, Scottish Government minister for further and higher education, said: “The Scottish Government has been consistent in arguing for the reintroduction of a post-study work visa following the decision by the UK Government to end the previous route in 2012. This is a welcome step forward but only one of many measures required.

“It should not have taken seven years for the UK Government to accept the arguments from partners across Scotland and reverse their decision.

“It is clearer by the day that Scotland urgently needs a migration policy tailored to our distinct needs and for the devolution of powers to develop, deliver and maintain policies that meet the needs of Scotland’s universities, communities, public services and economy.”

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “The introduction of a two-year post-study work visa is something Universities UK has long campaigned for and we strongly welcome this policy change, which will put us back where we belong as a first-choice study destination.

“Not only will a wide range of employers now benefit from access to talented graduates from around the world, these students hold lifelong links with the UK.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office told The PIE News that the government is “currently working on a timeline” for the new rules, but universities “will be able to recruit on the basis that students of 2020/21 will benefit”.