By Shazia Hasan
Published in DAWN on November 22, 2020
KARACHI: “From January 1, 2021 we are implementing a new, fairer, global points-based immigration system, which will welcome people to the United Kingdom, who want to work and study based on what they have to offer, rather than where their passport is from.” This was said by UK’s Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster in an exclusive online interview with Dawn.
“For Pakistani citizens, if they want to come to work in the UK, all they will need to demonstrate is they have a job offer from an approved sponsor, the job offer is at the required skill and salary levels, plus prove they can speak English. Our new system will take into account a broader range of skills compared to our current visa system for non-European Economic Area [EEA] nationals,” he further said.
There is also good news for students here, who would like to study in the UK. The new points-based immigration system, similarly, also applies to them. International students play a major role in making important contributions both academically and economically to the UK now that the country has left the European Union.
“Students applying to come to one of our amazing institutions to study through the new student route will need to demonstrate they have an offer from an approved educational institution, speak English and are able to support themselves during their studies in the UK.
“We are also making it easier for international graduates of UK higher educational institutions to secure skilled jobs in the UK and contribute to the UK’s economic growth with our new graduate visa,” the minister informed.
“The student route has streamlined and simplified the requirements of the previous Tier 4 visa route and the application process for international students studying in the UK, while significantly improving on our offer in the global marketplace.”
About the graduate route, the minister further informed that it will be introduced in summer 2021. It can transform into a short-duration work visa.
“To be eligible for the route, students must successfully complete a degree at undergraduate level or above at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance and hold valid permission as a student when the route is introduced. The route will enable students studying at bachelors or masters level to work or look for work for a period of two years after completing their course, whereas students who successfully complete a PhD qualification will be able to stay for three years,” he said.
“Those in the UK on the graduate route can apply in the country to switch into the skilled worker route if they secure a job offer which meets the requirements of it,” he added.
Coming back to the student visa, like before there continues to be no limit on the number of international students who can come to the UK to study and there is no intention of imposing one.
“We want to welcome talented people from Pakistan to take advantage of our world-leading education,” Minister Foster pointed out.
In response to Covid-19, the UK Home Office has also made a number of temporary changes in order to support the higher education sector and international students during the pandemic. This includes lifting the prohibition on distance learning for international students to ensure they can continue to study whilst institutions are physically closed, ensuring Covid-19 related absences will not count against students and permitting students who have commenced a course of study overseas due to the pandemic, to continue to be able to access the graduate route, provided they enter the UK prior to April 6, 2021.
The UK Home Office is also working closely with the UK’s education sector to understand and address concerns raised by the Covid-19 outbreak and will ensure they are able to continue to recruit large number of international students within the new points-based system.
As for the UK visit visa, from Dec 1, 2020, short-term study of up to six months will be incorporated into visit visas as a permitted activity.
“This means students can enter the UK as visitors to study short courses at an accredited institution for up to six months,” the minister concluded.
Note: Further details of the routes which will form the new points-based system can be found in the policy statement.