UK tests new visa scheme for grads
The United Kingdom has started a new pilot program for international students, including those from China, that allows them to stay in the country for an extra six months after graduation with a master’s degree from one of four top universities.
The so-called Tier 4 Visa pilot program, intended to run for two years, is open to international students accepted for a one-year master’s degree program at the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London or University of Bath.
The scheme will cover visa applications decided on or after July 25 this year, and is for students who commence their studies in the 2016-17 or 2017-18 school years.
Under the pilot, no funding or education background certificates are required for a visa.
The British government Q&A circular sent to university vice-chancellors says the four universities “were selected due to their consistently low level of visa refusals. The pilot is intentionally narrow in scope in order to monitor the pilot outcomes against the stated objectives and to minimize the risk of unintended consequences before considering rolling it out more widely.”
“This pilot scheme is an encouraging step forward,” said Alice Gast, president of Imperial College London. “The ability to stay on for six months will bring benefits to the students and to the country as our talented graduates will be able to pursue their entrepreneurial ideas, further study or add to the UK’s talent pool.”
Tanya Wang, senior immigration adviser at UVIC, an education and visa service agency, said “the purpose of the scheme is clear, to attract more exceptional talent to the UK, starting with four toptier universities. It could be a sign of easing immigration policy”.
However, Wang said the easing does not cover everyone. The government wants to keep the UK attractive for talented students, successful entrepreneurs, high net-worth individuals and people from whom the country can benefit in a post-Brexit context.
The new plan offers students access to a streamlined visa application process and the opportunity to stay in the UK for six months after their studies to work, explore further studies, start up a business or even just to travel.
Some insiders believe it’s a step in the right direction by the newgovernment but that it won’t make a huge difference for those seeking permanent employment opportunities in the UK, which requires a switch to a work visa.
The ability to stay on for six months will bring benefits to the students and to the country.” Alice Gast, president of Imperial College London