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Stability and Opportunity: The Future of Post-Study Work Visas in the UK

On May 14th, British time, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) submitted a 70-page report to the UK Home Office concerning an investigation into the Post-Study Work visa (PSW) for UK graduates.

 

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Previously, on March 11th of this year, the Home Office had requested the MAC to investigate potential abuses of the PSW visa by May 14th.

 

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In the early part of this month, as the report’s publication approached, many institutions predicted potential changes. These included possibly reducing the visa duration from the current two years for undergraduates and master’s graduates, and three years for PhDs, to only six months or one and a half years. There were even claims that the PSW might be abolished, or that only students and universities with high academic achievements could qualify for it.

 

According to the latest PSW investigation report released, the MAC recommends that the immigration authority continues with the current visa framework without changes. The MAC believes that the policy implemented in January, which prohibits older international students from bringing spouses and children, has already significantly reduced the number of international students coming to the UK. Considering the tuition contributions that international students make to the UK educational system and universities, there is no need for further stringent restrictions on the student work visa.

 

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The report also mentioned that the investigation found no widespread abuse of the Post-Study Work (PSW) visa. However, many educational consultants have been misleading applicants by using the PSW visa as a selling point to attract clients who do not necessarily need a UK student visa. To address this issue, the report suggests that the UK Home Office should establish dedicated regulatory channels to monitor unethical educational consultants.

 

Although the MAC’s feedback report does not dictate UK policy, the current investigation results suggest that the likelihood of the Home Office making changes to the PSW visa is decreasing. The report also discusses various aspects of the conditions for UK students staying in the UK after graduation. Primarily, the main pathway for UK graduates to remain in the country is still the Skilled Worker Visa, which requires employer sponsorship. To qualify for this visa, graduates need to find a job that meets the salary requirements, and the employer must be willing to sponsor the transition from the PSW to the Skilled Worker Visa. This can be quite challenging for many new graduates.

 

A current solution for graduates is to start their own company and, after genuinely operating the business, switch to a Skilled Worker Visa sponsored by their own company. The company must have real operations, a physical office, business transactions, and comply with tax regulations. Since holders of the Skilled Worker Visa must work for five years to qualify for permanent residency, and these five years must be continuous and meet the salary requirements, many workers face potential challenges such as changes in salary or employer, which could disrupt the continuity of their visa. Establishing one’s own company and becoming one’s own boss might entail more responsibilities, but it is the most secure method as it allows for complete control. For many highly educated graduates who have spent years studying in the UK, starting their own business in the UK is also a viable way to enrich their lives.

 

For UK graduates, even those who have lived in the UK for a while, there is still much to learn and understand about starting a business in the UK, including setting up business accounts, registering for VAT and PAYE, and maintaining a company website. All these require professional assistance to ensure that the applicants do not take unnecessary detours. Globevisa’s UK Self-Employed Visa program offers help with everything from registering a company in the UK to providing entrepreneurial coaching and applying for an employer sponsorship license for the company and the applicant’s Skilled Worker Visa. For more detailed information about the program, please feel free to contact us directly.

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