Question

Department for Education written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Richard Thomson Richard Thomson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business and Industry)

What recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on visas and immigration rules for international students studying in the UK after the transition period.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Minister of State (Education)

My department engages across Government and with the Devolved Administrations on a regular basis, including through a programme of meetings which was introduced to discuss the future immigration system after the publication of the Immigration White Paper in December 2018.

EU students in the UK on, or prior to, 31 December 2020 are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme – the deadline for applications is 30 June 2021.

From October 2020, all students (EU and non-EU) will be able to apply for a visa via the Student and Child Student routes, which will build on the current Tier 4 visa system. When the Student route opens there will be a number of improvements which will further streamline the immigration process. This will include extending the visa application window for prospective students to six months and allowing international students to apply for further leave as a Student or switch into other routes from inside the UK (in-country switching). Changes to the new Student route have been developed via extensive engagement with the sector and have been based upon the Law Commission’s report on the simplification of the Immigration Rules.

In addition, Government announced that PhD graduates will benefit from three years of leave in the UK under the new Graduate route when it is introduced in Summer 2021. International students graduating with undergraduate or master’s degrees will be able to stay in the UK to work, or look for work, for two years after graduation. This will continue to improve the UK’s globally competitive offer to international students.

Government has published, and updated, bespoke guidance for students setting out important flexibilities at this time. These have included enabling international students to complete distance/blended learning for the upcoming academic year, provided students’ sponsors intend to transition to face-to-face learning as soon as circumstances allow, and confirming that those studying by distance/blended learning will be eligible to apply for the Graduate route provided they are in the UK by 6 April 2021 and meet other requirements of the route.

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