Int'l students hit by UK visa changes

2024-05-16 09:57:29China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Recent changes to the United Kingdom's visa rules that include a hike in the minimum wage needed to qualify for a skilled worker visa — from 26,200 pounds to 38,700 pounds ($33,000 to $48,800) — have led to job offers being withdrawn from foreign graduates of British universities.

Major employers, including HSBC, KPMG, and Deloitte, have reportedly cited the UK government's stringent new visa rules when rescinding job offers made to foreign graduates, the Financial Times has reported.

It said large companies had little choice after the new threshold was introduced in April, with dozens of job offers reportedly withdrawn as a result.

The UK government raised the threshold for qualification for a skilled worker visa in a bid to reduce the number of immigrants arriving in the country. While the threshold now stands at 38,700 pounds for older people, the wage needed by those aged 26 and under is slightly less onerous, at 30,960 pounds.

However, many graduates have complained that employers are not recruiting young trainee workers at that pay level.

One unnamed job-seeker told FT: "Having spent 50,000 pounds on attending university in the UK, I now have to go back to my home country."

The UK's Migration Advisory Committee, an independent body that advises the government on migration issues, said the government's decision to raise the threshold for qualification for a skilled worker visa while at the same time considering abolishing the graduate visa program, which lets foreign graduates of UK universities remain in the country for two years, are together causing widespread worry among overseas students.

The Conservative Party, which is in power but facing an uphill battle to secure reelection later this year, is understood to want to take a hard line on immigration in a bid to win votes.

But university vice-chancellors have warned the government that the hike in the threshold for skilled worker visas and the potential abolition of the UK's graduate visa would spell financial turmoil for the education sector.

While the change has already been made to the threshold for the skilled worker visa, the government has not yet made a decision on the future of the graduate visa, although one is expected in the middle of next week.

The Guardian newspaper quoted Brian Bell, chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee, as saying: "Our review recommends the graduate route should remain as it is, and is not undermining the quality and integrity of the UK's higher education system.

"The graduate route is a key part of the offer that we make to international students to come and study in the UK.The fees that these students pay help universities to cover the losses they make in teaching British students and doing research. Without those students, many universities would need to shrink and less research would be done."

The UK granted 114,000 graduate route visas in 2023 to main applicants and an additional 30,000 visas to their dependents. Some 70 percent of graduate route visas were issued to people from China, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.


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