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Changes to the Student Visa in the UK

There are areas that are absolute dream to live in and areas that can be a real nightmare.

Is this the best time to study in the UK?

Should you study in the UK?

Wait did the UK government just make changes the to the Student visa?

Are these just some of the questions in swirling around in your mind? If yes, you need to keep reading because I might be able to help with the answers.

This place is often referred to as the boil on the you know where of Buckinghamshire.

Changes to the Graduate Visa Length

A couple of days ago, in leaked advice Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary proposed to cut the duration of the graduate visa for international students in the UK.

At the moment the graduate visa allows international students to continue living and working in the UK for 2 years after they’ve graduated.

The new proposal cuts this down to 6 months which is a huge blow because it basically means international students have 6 months to secure a UK work visa or leave the country. The reason for this is that the number of immigrants jumped to 1.1 million in 2022 with 476,000 of them being students and the Home Secretary is looking to reduce those numbers because of a pledge made to cut net migration.

Of course there is push back from the educational department because this would instantly make the UK less attractive than competitor student destinations like the US, Canada and Australia with top schools losing talented students. The other reason of course is that with decreasing international students, many colleges will feel the financial strain because international students basically make for the bulk of fees.

The challenge is, securing a work visa is not the easiest thing to do and coupled with recession & inflation the country is facing, a lot of companies are being slightly conservative with their hiring decisions.

What should you do?

This one is really tricky but here’s my take.

If this becomes a rule, because it isn’t a rule right now, right now it’s just speculation, but if you plan on studying in a course that doesn’t have the highest employment rate in the UK after completing your course, be mentally prepared that you might face it challenging to find a job in 6 months.

If it’s a role that that isn’t on the list of eligible jobs for sponsorship (because there is a list of jobs that can get sponsored and and jobs that can’t) like a cook for instance but you’re assuming you’ll use it as an entry role and work your way up to a role that does offer sponsorship like a chef, please rethink. You don’t have the time to work your way up the ladder in 6 months.

If you plan on applying for a role that is on the list of eligible jobs, from the moment you get here, you will have to hustle and network to ensure you land a job that can sponsor your visa no matter what.

There won’t be a moment to waste. Be prepared to put in the work.

Changes to the working hours

On the flip side, the UK PM Rishi Sunak is apparently proposing increasing the number of hours that international students are allowed to work.

At the moment, international students are allowed to work for 20 hours a week during term time and 40 hours during breaks.

The PM is proposing increasing the hours to 30 hours a week or completely doing away with any restrictions on the hours that international students can work for a specific reason.

At the moment there are 1.3 million vacant posts in the UK that haven't been filled in because of labour shortages and considering the economy right now, the UK honestly needs these roles to be filled to get the wheels turning.

The challenge here is that while some academic institutions have welcomed the change, because they are aware that a lot of students are struggling with rising cost of living, others are of the opinion that uncapped work hours would distract students from their courses.

Since this is good news, if they do increase the work hours, you don’t have anything to worry about

Except that you shouldn’t lose sight of what you came to do - study and graduate.

A lot of students fall into the trap of getting so involved in their part time jobs that they either fail college or take a job offering sponsorship for a short duration to make money and assuming they’ll get another job later.

If that happens, at the end of it, you won’t have a visa or a degree from the UK which could have helped you get a job so please be careful about how you spend your time.

Changes to Dependent Visas

Another change the government has been mulling is to the dependants of international students.

Rumours in December indicated that the government was mulling over scrapping dependant visas to international students entirely because the dependants in their opinion would either not work or work in low income jobs and thus wouldn’t actively contribute to the growth of the economy.

Now word has it that the government is instead considering allowing foreign students to bring dependent family members with them only if they were on postgraduate research-based courses that were at least two years' long.

If this happens, it’s going to be a huge challenge for those with families who had been planning on making the move along with them.

If you are one of them, it’s not the best place to be in. I get it, I wouldn’t want to leave my family behind or be the one left behind either.

If you aren’t in a position to travel and study alone, you might want to consider your options in terms of courses that allow for dependants or countries that don’t have restrictions on dependants.

But don’t jump the gun just yet, there is still no official communication on this so until then you’re in the clear.

If you are still planning on studying in the UK, which I highly recommend btw, the cost can be quite a bit.

Which is why it’s always great if you manage to get a scholarship that covers a lot of costs.

Rather watch this? Here you go:

The good news is there are a bunch of them available.

If you’d like to know more about that, watch this.

Until next time!

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