A new visa scheme to attract the best graduates from the world’s top universities to the UK has been launched by the British government.
Starting today, hopeful applicants with a bachelor’s or master’s will, if successful, be given a 2-year work visa, while PhD-holders can apply for a 3-year visa. Graduates can also apply without a prior job offer and dependants can accompany them.
“I am proud to be launching this new and exciting route as part of our points-based immigration system which puts ability and talent first, not where someone comes from,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel.
The scheme forms part of the UK’s post-Brexit points-based immigration policy to attract skilled and talented workers from across the world.
Graduates from the top 50 non-UK universities who hold a degree equivalent to a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree awarded no more than five years before the date of application can apply.
The visa scheme will be uncapped and the number of successful “high potential individuals” allowed entry will depend on demand.
The government hopes the visa—which cost £715—will attract the “brightest and best” to come and work in the UK at the beginning of their careers.
Applicants must graduate from eligible universities which appear in the top 50 rankings of at least two of three of the following league tables—the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, or The Academic Ranking of World Universities.
The most recent list of eligible universities from 2021, published online by the government, comprises 20 U.S. institutions plus universities from Canada, Japan, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, France, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Twenty U.S. institutions dominate the most recent list of eligible universities, published online by the UK government, including MIT, Princeton, Stanford, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Berkeley, and New York University.
Candidates must pass a security and criminality check and be able to speak, read, listen and write English to at least the B1 intermediate level.
They must also have maintenance funds of at least £1,270.
After two years, graduates can switch to other long-term employment visas if they meet the “eligibility requirements.”
The UK’s Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the new visa offer means the UK will grow as a leading “international hub for innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.”
“We want the businesses of tomorrow to be built here today, which is why I call on students to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to forge their careers here,” he added.
The government’s points-based immigration system replaces the free movement of labour granted to EU nationals before the 2016 Brexit vote.
Unchecked EU immigration was cited as a main reason among many of those who voted to leave the EU.