The UK’s new student visa rules will close the backdoor to work, according to Immigration Minister James Brokenshire. The government this week unveiled a reform package designed to make it harder for international students to work in the UK illegally. Under the proposals, the minimum wage and English language requirements for applicants will be raised and strict rules on sponsored study will be enforced.
Mr Brokenshire said the government needs to prevent people from “abusing” the student visa system.
“We are introducing a wide range of measures, including increasing the minimum wage requirement and language requirements for student visa applicants, to clamp down on those looking to benefit from the study route to the UK illegally – closing the backdoor to work,” he said.
He added that the new rules would help to ensure UK universities attract “only the most academically qualified students from abroad”.
The government also announced that it would be tightening up its visa sponsorship system, requiring full-time international students to prove they have enough money to cover course fees plus living expenses for the duration of their stay in the country.
The proposals have been welcomed by Universities UK, the representative body for universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Nicola Dandridge, its chief executive, said the changes should help protect students from “rogue providers” who have given the sector a bad name.
“We want to ensure only genuine students are able to study in the UK,” she said.
The reforms come as Theresa May’s government puts increasing pressure on migration figures and targets a reduction in net migration to the tens of thousands. It is estimated that up to 100,000 students a year are entering the UK on student visas with the intention of working in the labour market.