Storm over student visa job reforms

Storm over student visa job reforms

March 31, 2021

Storm over student visa job reforms as ministers are accused of making ‘reckless’ changes to the system

  • Migration Watch criticised move to allow foreign grads to take low-skilled jobs 
  • Only those with higher-paid offers qualify for a visa under new points system
  • But students can avoid lower-skilled worker curbs from July 1 for up to two years 

Ministers have been accused of making ‘reckless’ changes to the visa system that will allow foreign students to work in the UK for up to two years after they finish their course.

Migration Watch UK criticised the move, which will allow foreign graduates to take roles including low-skilled jobs.

Alp Mehmet, Migration Watch chairman, said: ‘These changes are bound to add to competition for lower-paid jobs at a time of very high unemployment of UK workers, especially younger people.’

Only those with higher-paid offers qualify for a visa under the new points-based system.

Migration Watch UK criticised the move, which will allow foreign graduates to take roles including low-skilled jobs. Stock picture

But students can avoid lower-skilled worker curbs from July 1 for up to two years.

A Migration Watch report said: ‘The Migration Advisory Committee has specifically warned against its re-opening. Yet the Government is recklessly ignoring this advice.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Our graduate route… will have robust measures in place to stop abuse and ensure only those who find a skilled job can settle here.’ 

The new route, announced by the Home Office on Budget day earlier this month, opens on July 1 to EU and non-EU students.

Migration Watch said the change went against the recommendations of the Home Office’s own Migration Advisory Committee.

Previous exemptions for post-study work visas had been abused before being phased out just under a decade ago, it added.

Alp Mehmet, Migration Watch chairman, said: ‘These changes are bound to add to competition for lower-paid jobs at a time of very high unemployment of UK workers, especially younger people.’ Stock picture

For example, the National Audit Office – the government spending watchdog – estimated in 2012 that between 40,000 and 50,000 foreign students had actually come here to work rather than to complete a qualification.

Migration Watch accused the Government of creating the ‘deeply defective’ new scheme to ‘placate the insatiable higher education lobby’ which is ‘keen to secure overseas fees to plug funding gaps’.

The UK unemployment rate is running at a five-year high of 5 per cent with 1.7million out of work, according to latest official figures.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates about 2.2million people, or 6.5 per cent of all workers, could be unemployed at the end of the year.

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