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Changes to immigration rules for students

Are you looking to study in the UK but worried about finding a job after graduating? The government’s proposed changes to the Tier 4 visa could help.

Every year the UK educates over 450,000 international students, attracting students from all over the globe for its world class educational opportunities. Under a new proposal from the home office, these students will soon be able to remain in the UK for up to two years after graduating, extending the period from the current four month limit.

Prior to 2012, international students were able to stay within the UK for two years following their graduation. However, this was repealed and restricted to a four month period as one of the key tenets of Theresa May’s immigration policy. From next year, all international graduates could again qualify for the two year period to work in the UK, increasing their opportunity to find suitable long term employment and switch to the Tier 2 visa.

Under the proposal there will be no cap on numbers and no skill requirements and it will be independent of subject(s) studied. It is part of the plan to increase enrolments of international students and to recruit talented graduates to stay and work within the UK, particularly those in mathematics, engineering and technology fields.

The response to this announcement has been overwhelmingly positive. Universities UK which fears a decline of international students following Brexit, acknowledged that it is step towards rectifying the UK’s competitive disadvantage in recruiting international students. Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, hopes these changes will establish the UK as a ‘first choice study destination’, stating that “evidence shows that international students bring significant positive social outcomes to the UK as well as £26bn in economic contributions.”

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, believes the changes will capitalise on the important cultural and economic impact international students make to Britain, saying “our universities thrive on being open global institutions. Introducing the graduate route ensures our prestigious higher education sector will continue to attract the best talent from around the world to global Britain.”

According to the Department of Education the visa will be available to 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 [visa] at the point the route is introduced.” This enables students to apply for work of any sort while they search for longer term employment that satisfies the Tier 2 Visa requirements.

If you would like to speak to Fletcher Day about the implications this has for your current student visa, or for those who have graduated or will be graduating soon, we regularly advise university graduates and would be happy to hear from you and discuss your visa options. Please contact Sam Meymand at or on 020 7632 1446.