The latest Statement of Changes (published on 10 September 2020) announced that the new international student immigration routes will be opening earlier than expected (on 5 October 2020). These routes will apply to both EEA and non-EEA students coming to study in the UK.
The abolishment of the Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) visa in April 2012 and the hurdles for graduates to obtain a Tier 2 (General) work visa under the existing rules mean that a number of international students from HNW or UHNW families have resorted to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa to remain in the UK (i.e. investing at least £2m in the UK).
Under the new student routes, the eight-year time limit on studying courses at postgraduate level has been removed which could make it easier for applicants to qualify for the 10-year Long Residence route for Indefinite Leave to Remain (i.e. permanent residence). Moreover, switching from/into other immigration routes will also be easier.
The new UK points-based immigration system will be introduced from January 2021. Certain changes (e.g. the removal of the Resident Labour Market Test) will increase the number of eligible non-EEA skilled workers to work in the UK, who might otherwise fail to meet the existing Tier 2 rules.
From summer 2021, a new two-year graduate visa will be available to international students who have completed a UK degree, which will enable them to look for work or work in the UK.
It is certainly welcome news that international students will now have more immigration options to stay in the UK after finishing their studies. (If I had as many options when I graduated, I might not have taken a career change from music to law...)
It should be noted that students do not benefit from any special tax treatments in the UK. They should seek advice to ensure that the way they are funded (e.g. by trust distributions) will not create any unexpected UK tax consequences.
International students play a key part in the government’s agenda to unleash the UK’s potential now that we have left the EU. They make important contributions economically, academically, and financially.