Tier 4 Students who will graduate in the summer of 2021 or later from a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance will be eligible for the scheme. However, students who are currently in their final year of university or whose Tier 4 visa expires before the route launches in the summer of 2021 will not be able to benefit.
Students applying under the new route will not require sponsorship from either an employer or a Higher Education Provider. They will be granted a personal status giving them permission to stay in the UK for up to two years, to work or look for work at any skill level. After which, they will be required to switch into the as yet undefined new skilled work immigration route in order to continue living in the UK.
Applicants will be required to pay a visa application fee as well as the Immigration Health Surcharge (though the government has not yet set out these fees). Given that students do not need a job to apply to the scheme, it will be interesting to see whether the current high level of these fees needed to be paid at the outset will be a barrier to those looking to benefit from this route.
The route will also not count towards settlement in the UK. As Tier 4 student leave does not count towards settlement either, it is foreseeable that there will be people who have been present in the UK for five or six years without any of this time making them eligible for settlement under these immigration routes. Instead they will need to stay for a further five years under a skilled work route. Although there is a 10 year continuous residence route to ILR, anyone who has spent a total of 18 months outside the UK throughout the 10 year period will not be eligible. Given that many students return home or travel during the long university vacation periods, it may well be that students benefitting from this proposed route become frustrated when the time comes to potentially apply to settle in the UK.
Although the reintroduction of this route is welcome, it must be said that none of these proposals have yet passed into law. Given the current political situation and the possibility of a future general election, it may be that these proposals go through more changes before coming into effect (if at all).
This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.
All content on this page is correct as of October 23, 2019.