Government Commissions Review of Graduate Route Visa

The Home Office has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to conduct a rapid review of the Graduate Route visa, a post-study work option for international students.

The review, requested by Home Secretary Rt. Hon. James Cleverly MP, aims to assess the route’s effectiveness in attracting and retaining the brightest students while supporting the UK’s higher education sector.

Background of the Graduate Route

Launched in July 2021, the Graduate Route allows students to remain in the UK for two years post-graduation, or three years for PhD graduates, without a sponsor. Eligibility requires successful completion of a degree at a Higher Education Provider and prior permission under the student route.

Concerns and Objectives for Review

The Government’s request for review stems from concerns about potential immigration abuse and the desire to maintain the quality reputation of UK universities. With 175,872 visas granted since its inception, the route’s impact on the education sector and the UK economy is under scrutiny.

Key Points for Investigation

The MAC will explore several areas, including:

  • Potential abuse of the route and its fitness for purpose.
  • Demographics of users and their university affiliations.
  • The contribution of graduate visa holders to the UK economy during and after their time on the route.
  • The route’s alignment with the Government’s International Education Strategy.

Government Actions and Future Steps

The Home Office have been open about their drive to reduce net migration to the UK. This has included drastic changes to the skilled worker route such as increasing the salary requirements and banning care workers from bringing dependant family members to the UK.

The Home Office have requested MAC’s report by 14 May 2024, a significantly shorter time than normal commissions. The MAC have already stated that this will substantially limit the quality and quantity of evidence they can provide, which questions whether the Home Office are genuinely seeking to better understand the route or simply looking for a reason to withdraw it.

If you have any queries regarding the contents of this article, contact our Immigration Team who are hand to answer your questions.

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The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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