Studying abroad is not a new phenomenon for Indians. We have been opting for degrees from prestigious foreign universities for years, with several famous celebrities also being educated abroad. While a degree from a UK or American university might seem enticing, especially with the scope and future prospects it opens up, many people are apprehensive about opting for this because of the cost factor.
There are many costs associated with studying abroad, which go beyond the tuition fee involved. These costs include application fee, visa fees, travel, lodging, and day to day expenses. These can all pile up, and end being a major deciding factor for students not opting for studying abroad.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel! The UK government has now announced that international students that attain a degree from a certified UK university are now automatically eligible for the graduate immigration route, commonly known as post study work visa.
As the coronavirus pandemic slowly abates, and the country begins to open up, jobs are springing up again in the UK. However, that’s not all – the UK has always been very friendly toward Indians and has always encouraged Indians to move to this country.
SOME FANTASTIC STATISTICS
- The number of students in London universities coming from India have nearly doubled recently, from 7185 students in 2018-19 to 13,435 students in 2019-20.
- Out of all international students in the UK, Indian students are second to only Chinese students.
- Overall, Indians make up the highest number of visa applicants to the UK, with nearly 20% of total visas granted to international people going to Indians.
- Close to 90% of visa applications (including student, tourist, and work visas) are accepted by the UK government each year.
- A little more than half of total work Tier 2 visas granted (51%) went to Indians.
- The recent meeting between UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led to the news that the UK would further relax the rules for UK visas exclusively for Indian nationals, as part of a scheme to strengthen relations between the two countries.
While all these statistics are encouraging in themselves, students might be confused as to how exactly to go about studying and then applying for the post study work visa. There is a very simple procedure to do so, which has been explained in depth below.
WHO CAN APPLY FOR THE GRADUTE IMMIGRATION ROUTE?
The Graduate route, as it is officially called, is available to international students, who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above (or one of the very limited number of professional qualifications at degree level or above) at a recognised university. Usually, it takes around 8 weeks for the visa authority to respond with a decision. Also, you are not allowed to bring any dependents to the UK while staying and working in the UK on this visa.
WHAT OTHER CONDITIONS MUST BE FULFILLED TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THIS VISA?
- The applicant must have successfully completed the degree, without having any backlogs remaining when applying. This will be checked before the application procedure commences, and the applicant can only apply after the university has given him/her the final course results.
- The applicant must hold a valid Tier 4 or student visa when applying.
- The applicant must be in the UK when applying, for the sole reason that in case the person has exited the country, then it will be difficult to re-enter, and they may be rejected and refused entry to the UK.
HOW LONG DOES THE GRADUATE VISA LAST?
The graduate visa will be for two years after completion of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, and for three years after completion of a PhD degree. After the completion of this time period, if the person manages to find a job with an employer that can provide sponsorship for him/her, then they can switch to a skilled worker visa. It is important to note that the time spent in the UK using the graduate work visa does not count toward settlement. For this, the person will need to switch to a skilled work visa and thereafter the time spent in the UK will count toward settlement.
ARE THERE ANY ADDITIONAL FEES INVOLVED?
The applicant only needs to pay the fee for the visa itself, which amounts to £700, and the Immigration Health Surcharge, which amounts to £624 per year, with the full amount needed to be paid while applying for the visa. This amount will depend on whether you apply for the two-year visa (after a bachelors or a masters), or a three-year visa (after a PhD).
The average annual salary of a recent graduate in the UK is anywhere between £18,000 to £22,000. By living frugally, one can easily start saving and off-setting some of the education loan taken, while also garnering valuable work experience in the UK, which is sure to improve employment prospects later back home.
While a degree from a recognised UK university, due to the costs alone, would have been unthinkable for the average Indian a few years ago; today, due to the newly introduced graduate immigration route, this is easier and more within reach than ever before.
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