Friday, April 06, 2012

Tougher U.K. student visa rules come into force

Under tougher immigration rules, coming into force from Friday (April 6, 2012), students from outside the European Union (EU) will be required to have a firm job offer of a minimum £20,000 a year from a government-approved employer if they wish to stay on in Britain after completing their studies.

In a separate move, the government announced that it was freezing the annual cap on highly skilled workers for two years. It will remain at 20,700 till 2014. This follows criticism from the business sector that constant changes in rules created uncertainty and made it difficult for businesses to plan for future.

Currently, students can stay on and work for up to two years after finishing their course but the government claims that the system is being abused as potential economic migrants use student visas to enter the country. Universities, however, fear that increasingly stringent rules would deter students from coming to Britain and hit the economy, to which foreign students contribute some £9 billion a year — an estimated £6 billion in fee alone.

Conservative Immigration Minister Damian Green said that in the past “too many students have come to the U.K. to work rather than study and this abuse must end.” The Home Office announced that from April 6, “a more selective system” would come into effect so that “only the most talented international graduates can apply to stay in the U.K. for work purposes.”

“That means only those graduating from a university, and having a job offer from a reputable employer accredited by the U.K. Border Agency at a salary of £20,000 or more, will be able to continue living and working in the U.K. in order to benefit the British economy,” it said. The new rules are part of a government crackdown on non-EU immigration to fulfil the Conservative Party's election pledge to drastically cut down immigration levels.

Source: The Hindu, April 6, 2012
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