There is good news for international students enrolled in UK universities, especially those from India who form the second-largest foreign students’ group globally. The UK government has announced the extension of the entry deadline to qualify for the new post-study work (PSW) visa.
The PSW visa, also known as the graduate route visa, allows eligible international students to search for work, and work for two years after completing their courses.
Students enrolled in courses were previously expected to be present in the UK by June 2021 to qualify for the graduate route. Now, the UK Home Office has extended this deadline to September 27.
“Applicants who began their studies in Autumn 2020 have until September 27, 2021, to enter the UK with permission as a student (updated from the previous date of June 21, 2021) in order to be eligible to apply to the graduate route. Students who began their studies in January or February 2021 will need to be in the UK by September 27, 2021,” reads the Home Office updated guidance.
This move greatly affects Indian students as India was placed on the “red list” travel ban on April 23 after recording a spurt in the COVID-19 delta variant infections.
The National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU) was among the many student groups campaigning for an extension. “We campaigned to bring back the post-study work visa (graduate route) for 7+ years as it has been a consistent demand of Indian students. With its return, we expect to see the number of Indian students coming to the UK to at least double,” said NISAU in a statement.
Indian students with a valid UK visa were permitted to fly to the country, but their plans were disrupted owing to the second wave of the pandemic in their home country. They also had to bear the extra cost of over GBP 1,700 for a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine upon arrival in the UK.
Per latest data from the UK Home Office, there was a 6,391 increase in the number of study visa grants to Indian nationals in the year ending March 2021 – marking a 13 percent hike over 2020. This trend reflects that Indian students are keen to study in the UK despite COVID-19 restrictions and its impact on travel and other aspects.
Universities UK International (UUKi), an organisation representing 146 UK universities, advised students holding an offer at a UK university to contact their institution to find out the latest plans for the beginning of studies in September.
Students have also been advised by UUKi to follow the latest travel and visa policies of the two governments so that they are well prepared.
In another fillip to Indian students enrolled in UK universities, they can also avail of the benefit of COVID-19 vaccinations when they arrive in the UK in the coming months.