Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) of the points based immigration system has enabled foreign students from outside the EEA to start building careers in this country following their graduation. It does so by permitting them to take employment without being subject to the full rigours of the sponsorship regime. This will change on 5 April when Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) will close to new applicants.
Students subject to immigration control who wish to remain in this country after their graduation will have two routes:
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
This is a new category for students who have been identified by their universities as having developed "world class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills.” Students will have to be sponsored by their university and successful applicants will be given 12 months in which to develop a business in the UK. This may be extended by a second period of 12 months. There will be an annual cap of 1,000 places under this category.
Tier 2 (General)
This requires the graduate to find an employer who is licensed by UKBA to sponsor migrants and who is able to offer skilled employment. However, the normal Tier 2 (General) rules will be slightly relaxed for new graduates. They will not be required to satisfy the resident labour market test and they will not be subject to the annual cap on the number of Tier 2 migrants.
At the same time, the maintenance funds requirement will increase for the first time since it was introduced and student visas will generally have a time limit of 5 years, although there will be exemptions for some course such as architecture and medicine.
This is not the end of post-study work visas as some bloggers have suggested; it is a partial closing of a loophole which has been open to abuse. We think it is unlikely that this will stem the flow of students trying to come to this country but only time will tell if it leads to a reduction in the number who stay here or an increase in those who choose to move under the radar.