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What does the immigration white paper mean for international students?


The UK government has today (19 December 2018) released its immigration white paper, which sets out proposals for the future immigration system for the UK. The white paper outlines changes to student visa rules which would make it easier for international students to stay and find work in the UK after graduating. 

The paper also suggests that from 2021 onwards, EU students may be required to apply for study visas.

 

Changes to post study work for international students

  • Undergraduate and Masters students will be able to stay in the UK to look for work for six months after graduating. They will also have three months before graduating during which they can find work and change from a study visa to a work visa.
  • PhD students will be able to stay in the UK for a year to find work after graduating They will also have three months before graduating during which they can find work and change from a study visa to a work visa.
  • International graduates will be given two years after graduating during which they can apply to switch their UK study visa to a UK work visa from outside the UK.

These changes are all expected to be in place by January 2021 at the latest but will be introduced in stages.

What would the white paper mean for EU students coming to the UK?

The white paper represents the government's proposals. Please note that these will be subject to debate in parliament and the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

Under the proposals in the white paper, EU students would need to apply for a study visa to come to the UK to study. This will be the same as the study visa for non-EU international students.

Currently, around 300,000 study visas are issued each year. The vast majority of visa applications are successful.

Study visas are sponsored by the student's university, and universities support their students through the visa application process. UK universities are keen to ensure that it is as easy as possible for EU students to come and study in the UK.

 

Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, said:

'UK universities will be pleased to see that today's announcement clearly recognises the important contributions that EU and international students make to the UK. Allowing graduates to stay on for longer to find work in the UK sends the message that international students are welcome here, and we value the skills they bring. These changes will have a real, positive impact on the students who come here to study and their opportunities after graduating.

Universities will continue to campaign for a new, two-year, post-study work visa and we are encouraged to see that the government is willing to make change in this area.

We understand that EU students will have questions about study visas. I want to offer reassurance to anybody from the EU who is thinking of coming to study in the UK that our universities are committed to ensuring that it remains as easy as possible for EU students to come and study in our country.'


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