United Kingdom’s Graduate Route visa (GRV) scheme

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in News?
  • Popularity of the UK as a Study Destination Among Indians
  • What is Graduate Route visa (GRV) scheme?
  • Impact of restricting the GRV scheme

Why in News?

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is considering changes to the Graduate Route visa (GRV) scheme. He wants to limit visas to only the best and the brightest students. This change aims to reduce the number of international students coming to the UK.

The proposal will particularly target education recruitment agents who provide misleading information to UK colleges and authorities.

Popularity of the UK as a Study Destination Among Indians

  • Indians form the largest community of international students in the UK. Recently, there has been a significant increase in student visas granted to Indians. 
  • According to the UK Home Office, between June 2022 and June 2023, student visas issued to Indians increased by 54%. 
  • Since June 2019, the number of visas granted to Indian nationals has risen seven-fold.

What is Graduate Route visa (GRV) scheme?

  • About
    • Introduced by the UK government in July 2021, the GRV scheme is a visa scheme for international students. 
    • It allows graduates who have completed a degree at a UK higher education provider to stay in the UK to work or look for work for up to two years after completing their studies. 
      • For those who have completed a PhD, the stay can be up to three years. 
    • This visa does not require a job offer and provides an opportunity for graduates to gain work experience in the UK.
  • Eligibility
    • This visa is available to international students:
      • who have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance; and
      • who have a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time of application.
        • The Tier 4 visa in the UK is a type of student visa. 
        • It is designed for international students who wish to study in the UK at a school, college, or university.
  • Why do Indians seek GRVs?
    • A Graduate Route Visa (GRV) extends an individual's stay in the UK after education. 
    • It allows them to seek employment opportunities and earn well. 
    • While on a GRV, individuals can also try to get other visas, such as a work visa, by finding a good sponsor or employer.
    • Many students from India, especially from Punjab, want to settle in the UK. A GRV gives them a gateway to do so. 
    • It is popular because it allows families to accompany the GRV holder if certain criteria are met.

Impact of restricting the GRV scheme 

  • On number of international students seeking to study in the UK
    • Experts believe the proposal of restricting GRVs could significantly reduce the number of international students seeking to study in the UK.
    • It would do so by creating uncertainty regarding post-graduation prospects, and opportunity for a more long-term stay in the country.
  • Prospects of average student will be hindered
    • Restricting GRV only to the best and brightest will especially hinder prospects of the ‘average’ student seeking to study in the UK.
  • Financial losses to the universities of UK
    • Recently, an independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), in its study, said that the GRV scheme should continue as it helps UK universities make up for financial losses on the domestic front.
  • UK - a less attractive destination for overseas students
    • Experts believe any curtailment of the post-study offer would make the UK less attractive to overseas students, including Indians.
      • Rather than the UK, international students will simply prefer a destination which offers more stability post-education.
    • This proposal came at a time when other countries such as Canada and Australia have also introduced (or will soon introduce) caps on international students. 
    • Due to this, the UK was emerging as a top alternative but Sunak’s move has brought in an air of uncertainty.
  • Impact on Indian students
    • Currently, Indians constitute roughly 42% of GRV holders, again, the highest among all nationalities. 
      • Indians accounted for 89,200 visas between 2021 and 2023 or 42 per cent of the overall grants,
    • Thus, whatever the specific changes may be in the UK’s GRV scheme, Indians will be significantly impacted.

Q.1. What is the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) of UK?

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is an independent, non-statutory, non-time limited, non-departmental public body that advises the government on migration issues. MAC is an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Home Office.

Q.2. What is the function of UK Home Office?

The Home Office (the Department) is the lead government department for crime, the police, drugs policy, immigration and passports, and counter terrorism. It has four priorities: cut crime; reduce immigration; prevent terrorism; and promote growth by keeping the UK safe.

Source: Rishi Sunak contemplating changes to UK’s Graduation Route visa: How will Indians be affected? | Economic Times | Ulster University