The UK government has scrapped its old student visa policy which allowed international students to stay just four months post-study. The decision by the Boris Johnson government is a huge opportunity, and is particularly welcomed by Indian students who had been discouraged as finding a job in the UK market has been getting increasingly tougher due to UK's strict immigration policy.
In 2012, then Home Secretary Theresa May drew rules providing just 120 days of stay after studying in the United Kingdom. Indian students were particularly hit by the decision. Theresa May who went on to become the Prime Minister continued with the policy while the number of Indian students going to the UK declined significantly. Mrs May was of the opinion that students, in general, use their visa to stay illegally in the UK.
While international students overstaying has been an issue, the government was left red-faced after a report suggested that less than 5000 international students attempted to live in the UK illegally. The Office of National Statistics revealed that in 2016 around 4600 students had overstayed in the UK while the assumption has been of hundreds of thousands. In 2018, the UK government released its white paper on immigration policy proposing an extension of stay for international students from 4 months to 6 months post-study. It also suggested that the European Union students – who otherwise do not have to apply for a visa to work – might have to go through the same process as any other foreign student.
Here is how I faced trouble in the UK: With two master's degrees from two of the best universities in the world (not boasting!), I was more qualified than most of my peers. In the UK, students barely go for a second Master's as that is considered as a route for academics and not journalists. After completing my degree and becoming a part of an award-winning team, I was flooded with job offers.
Every morning I would receive an e-mail saying how I was a 'perfect candidate' and that my qualifications were 'exactly' what they have been looking for. But having learnt that I was from India and would require a visa to stay, the tone would change. From the representative of a company looking to hire, they would sound like a helpless bartender who was being asked to serve after the bar had closed. Soon, the early morning greetings turned into evenings of apologies.
The latest reversal of Theresa May era of policy by the government is a ray of hope for the Indian students who on a number of occasions have and still do outshine their European peers but fail to attract job in view of visa restrictions. For all those talented aspiring Indian youths, this is good news.