With the launch of the new Graduate Route in the UK, the Immigration Minister for the UK, Kevin Foster confirmed that the visa requirements for international students to be in the UK will be extended to 6th April 2022, as COVID concessions.
As per the announcement, incoming international students will be permitted to study remotely, if the health and visa protocols at the time require them to do so. These students will still be eligible for work rights upon graduation. While addressing the UKCISA conference delegates, he clarified that the rules relate to blended or distance learning.
Foster stated that the UK government is keen on avoiding a surge in international travellers in late September to early October, especially considering the number of international students who travel from the biggest markets, i.e. India, Pakistan and even Nigeria. These markets are currently on the red lists, except Nigeria which is in the amber list, of the UK and devolved administrations. This means that students from these countries would be required to stay in managed hotel quarantine upon arrival.
He commented that involving such a large capacity for quarantine in a couple of weeks does not seem like an appropriate way forward. Further, universities managing the arrival of their students via pilot schemes in such large numbers would not be helpful, the minister added.
However, the Immigration Minister emphasised that the government would encourage students to not look at April 6th as the date for arrival, rather consider it as a deadline.
Hoping to see the world in a better position in February or March 2022, Foster commented that ending the concessions in late September would not be appropriate as many countries are expected to still remain on the red lists of the UK government and devolved administrations at the time.
However, as per the latest guidance published, students who enrolled during the Autumn 2020 or Spring 2021 session are required to be in the UK by 27th September.
Welcoming the move, Anne Marie Graham, Chief Executive at UKCISA, commented that the extension of the time-limited concessions to support students planning their courses for the 2021-22 academic year instils them with reassurance. This further helps UKCISA and their partners in offering the correct information to international students during the application process.
Susan Fang from Oxford Holdings Inc commented that the news can be considered as an incentive for Indian students, who can accept their offers from UK universities, study remotely from their country and still be able to work in the UK afterwards.
Stay tuned for further news and updates!