Home » UK visa review next week may have a far reaching impact on Indian students

UK visa review next week may have a far reaching impact on Indian students

A large number of students from India who are planning to go to the UK this year for their higher studies may have a reason to worry. 

There is a speculation that migration advisory committee (MAC) — in its report of review of post study work (PSW) visa on May 14 — may discontinue the much sought-after visa that enables international students to work across sectors for two years just like the natives. 

This visa is one of the key incentives for international students to study in the UK. Let us understand the issue in more detail.

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What is the MAC review?

MAC stands for migration advisory committee that is tasked with the job of reviewing post study work visas. This visa, if axed, will deprive international students from India, and elsewhere, of continuing to stay in the UK after their studies have finished. So, this is likely to have a far-reaching impact.

When will the decision come?

The deadline for submitting the report is May 14. This is the rapid review commissioned by the Home Secretary James Cleverly on March 11 this year.

In the letter written by Cleverly, he mentioned that in 2023 only 32 percent of international graduates switching into work routes earned a salary above the general threshold with just 16 percent earning over £30,000 – which means that the vast majority of those completing the Graduate route earn less than the median wage of graduates.

What is the post study work visa?

The visa introduced in July 2021 after a hiatus of around 10 years allows international students to work in any job — related to the studies carried out or not — without having to require sponsorship or work permit from the employer. 

This means one can search and work in any job just like a citizen without any restrictions. The validity of this visa is two years. 

How does it impact Indian students?

In 2023, Indian students were issued 1.20 lakh student visas (out of 4.57 lakh total visas issued across all the countries). The number of visas issued in 2023 was 250 percent higher than 2019, i.e., before the PSW came into force.

So, the spike in the number of students from India can be attributed to the introduction of PSW visa in 2021. 

According to one British Council report, India is the largest source of Graduate route participants among students from all over the world, and saw 68 percent growth in 2023.

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Why is the UK government cracking down on immigrants?

This is part of the larger plan to cut down on growing migration in the United Kingdom. The Rishi Sunak-led right-wing government has been continually cracking down on the surge in migrant workforce. 

In January 2023, the British government phased out dependent visas for students which now prevents international students from bringing family members to the country. The only exception to the rule is the students studying for a research programme such as PhD or post-doctoral studies.

In fact, in March 2023, migrant care workers were also barred from bringing their partners and children to the country. 

The new visa restrictions also stopped international students from switching out of the  student route into work before completing their studies.  

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Why is the UK government also deporting some immigrants to Rwanda?

Under the ‘Rwanda Asylum Plan’, all illegal immigrants will be deported to Rwanda, a small country in Central Africa. Under an arrangement between the UK and Rwanda, illegal immigrants will be sent there for processing, asylum and resettlement.

Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of UK, announced on April 22 that his government had booked commercial planes and would start sending asylum seekers to Rwanda in nearly 10 to 12 weeks.


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Published: 10 May 2024, 11:19 AM IST