Post-study work visa plans heard by Scottish Affairs Committee

UK Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, faced questions from MPs at a Scottish Affairs Committee meeting on Wednesday, 9 December 2015, over the possibility of re-introducing a post-study work visa scheme in Scotland. Robert Wright, Economics Professor at Strathclyde University, along with two immigration lawyers were also in attendance at the meeting to provide evidence.

Post-study work visa should be reinstated

The Scottish Affairs Committee, based in the Westminster Parliament chaired by the Scottish National Party's (SNP) Pete Wishart, is carrying out an inquiry into whether the post-study work visa scheme should be reintroduced.

Scottish Government's Post-study work Group also supports scheme

In March this year [2015], a report published by the separate Scottish Government's post-study work group insisted that students from outside the European Union should be granted 'special permission' to remain and seek employment in Scotland upon completion of their studies.

The group further recommended that the post-study work visa (previously called Tier 1 Post Study Work visa), which the UK government scrapped in 2012, should be reinstated. However, the Home Office disagrees stating that the previous visa system, which permitted non-EU graduates to stay in the UK for two years after completing their studies, was subject to 'widespread abuse.'

The post-study work visa scheme officially ended on 6 April 2012. The now defunct UK Border Agency stopped processing applications for Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) visas, leaving those on Tier 4 student visas wishing to remain in the UK after graduation, probably either having to apply for a Tier 2 visa or leave the UK.

In many cases that meant only graduates who had a skilled job from a sponsoring employer with a Tier 2 sponsorship licence under Tier 2 of the points-based system would be able to stay and work in the UK.

Others Support New Post Study Work Visa programme

Mr Wishart, who is the MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said that so far evidence indicates 'cross-sector support for some type of programme.' He said: "Representatives from the Scottish Government, industry and trade unions have all explained how it would benefit them."

"This session helped us to drill down to the nuts and bolts of the issue, to understand how such a system could operate. We welcomed Mr Brokenshire's participation, to hear his reaction to such widespread support and get an update on cross-government talks on the issue," Mr Wishart added.

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