Britain reverses student visa rules; reinstates earlier rule of two years

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Boris Johnson (File image)

The British government, under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has decided to increase the validity of the popular Tier-4 visas, also known as the student visas, from a time period of four months to two years for all courses at different levels.

As the Home Secretary, Former Prime Minister Theresa May had in 2011 decided to go ahead with the unpopular decision of reducing the validity of these visas to four months from two years. The decision had triggered an outcry in India and had become a stumbling block in the Free trade agreement that is currently being negotiated between India and Britain. As per data available, the entry of Indian students into British universities fell by about 55%.

But now, with the reversal by Prime Minister Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel, Indian students are ecstatic and have welcomed the move.

Shirshendu Banerjee, who did his masters in law at Queen Mary college in London, is of the opinion that this will lead to better opportunities for Indian students once they have completed their course, though cautioned that universities may use this opportunity to increase their total tuition fees and other expenses.

Another student, named Jyotsna Mehra, who studied courses related to International Relations at the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford, advised caution in the interest of the over all bilateral relations between the two strategic partners. She sees this opportunity as mutually beneficial to Britain and India. Indian talent can be used to further develop the British economy as it grapples with the effects of the controversial Brexit vote. On the other hand, skills acquired by Indian students in Britain can be used to transform India.

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It would be pertinent to note that Indian students seeking to study in Switzerland have a similar system which allows them to stay back for a period of four to six weeks after graduating, to find a job. The employer then sponsors the visa for a duration as mentioned in the employment contract.

Students seeking to migrate on a student visa to the US too aren’t immune from the over all crackdown initiated by the US administration. As per data obtained in 2017-18, student visas to Canada had increased by more than 40%, as securing a F-1 student visa to the US was becoming difficult and the chances of converting this into a H1B visa post-graduation, even tougher.

Canada has in place a far more liberal visa regime which allows its international students to work during their course work period and after that too. Australia, on the other hand, is cracking down on those seeking to extend or convert their student visas to regular employment visas.


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