The British government has decided to reform the immigration rules to allow more foreign students and researchers to search for employment in the country, which is said to be an indication of the government’s liberal stance in welcoming outsiders.
Included in the changes are plans to let students apply to migrate to a skilled worker visa immediately after they finish their courses instead of having to bide their time till they get their degrees. It was said to have been detailed in Budget documents, which were published on 22 November.
By adopting a new approach to the foreign student issue under Amber Rudd, home secretary, some in the sector are also suggesting that the Home Office arrange to broaden the scope of a pilot scheme in which visa rules have been relaxed for students who want to apply to master’s courses at Imperial College London and at Bath, Oxford and Cambridge universities.
But some concerns remain around United Kingdom’s approach after Brexit with regard to graduate workers, researchers and students of the European Union. They are yet to be resolved in the immigration bill of the government.
As per the ‘Red Book’ of the Budget, the government would reform immigration regulations to allow endorsing of world’s top researchers and scientists under the Tier 1 route ( given to exceptional talent) so that they can apply for settlement after completing three years; hasten the process for talented students to apply for employment in the UK after they graduate; and bring down the bureaucratic hurdles to recruit foreign members and researchers of renowned research teams by doing away with the labour market test and to allow research councils of the UK and other renowned organisations to sponsor researchers.
The reforms would let a student transfer to a Tier 2 skilled worker visas soon after finishing their studies or after taking their final exam rather than waiting until a degree is awarded to them. That amendment is said to have been arrived at after universities informed the Home Office that the existing regulations were causing inconvenience to students pursuing their master’s who, in most cases, need to wait for several months after completing their course until they receive their degree certificates.
On the other hand, one of the reforms to the Exceptional Talent scheme is reducing two years from the existing five-year wait time to be eligible for settlement as per this programme, target of which are current global movers or promising future business captains in a variety of sectors. This move came into place after the visa numbers available per year was raised to 2,000 from 1,000 under this scheme.
The law reforming the immigration rules is likely to be slated for the spring.
A spokesman for Universities UK was quoted by Times Higher Education as welcoming the positive reforms on the hiring of staff as well as letting students shift to post-study work very quickly.
He said in the next coming months, they would want to see the government being more liberal and sticking to a strategy for increasing numbers of international students.
Pam Tatlow, the MillionPlus mission group chief executive, was quoted as saying that they lauded the interest being shown by the Home Office and the government to better the visa rules for students, staff and early career graduates
She said that important for the future was resolving issues around EU nationals settled status in the UK when Brexit happens and also attaining a system that supports unrestricted movement between the EU and the UK. She added that this was the reason why the White Paper needed to be published by the Home Office ahead of the immigration bill, without any delay.
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