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UK PM Proposes Changes to Graduate Route Visa Scheme


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is contemplating revisions to the Graduate Route Visa (GRV) scheme, intending to restrict visas to the most outstanding international students. This proposal aims to decrease the overall number of international students in the UK. The changes particularly target education recruitment agents accused of providing misleading information to UK colleges and authorities.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Graduate Route Visa (GRV) Scheme
  2. Impact of Restricting the Graduate Route Visa (GRV) Scheme

Graduate Route Visa (GRV) Scheme

Introduction and Purpose:

  • Introduced by the UK government in July 2021, the Graduate Route Visa (GRV) is designed for international students.
  • It allows graduates who have completed a degree at a UK higher education institution to stay in the UK for up to two years post-graduation to work or look for work.
  • PhD graduates can stay for up to three years.


  • Open to international students who have successfully completed an undergraduate degree or higher at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.
  • Applicants must hold a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time of application.
  • The Tier 4 visa is specifically for international students studying in the UK.


  • No job offer is required to apply, providing graduates the flexibility to gain work experience.
  • The visa allows graduates to extend their stay in the UK, explore employment opportunities, and potentially secure a work visa with sponsorship from an employer.
  • It supports the ambitions of students, particularly from India, who wish to settle and work in the UK.
  • Families can accompany the GRV holder if they meet certain criteria.
  • Popularity of the UK as a Study Destination Among Indians

Significant Increase in Student Visas:

  • Indians represent the largest community of international students in the UK.
  • Between June 2022 and June 2023, the UK Home Office reported a 54% increase in student visas issued to Indian nationals.
  • Since June 2019, the number of visas granted to Indian students has increased seven-fold.
  • The GRV scheme enhances the appeal of studying in the UK by offering a clear pathway to employment and potential long-term settlement, making it particularly attractive to Indian students.

Impact of Restricting the Graduate Route Visa (GRV) Scheme

Potential Decline in International Students:

  • Experts suggest that restricting the GRV scheme could significantly decrease the number of international students choosing the UK for their studies. The uncertainty regarding post-graduation opportunities and long-term stay options would make the UK a less attractive destination.

Effect on Average Students:

  • Limiting the GRV to only the top-tier students would adversely impact the prospects of average students who seek to study in the UK. This move could deter a large segment of the student population that contributes to the diversity and financial health of UK universities .

Financial Impact on Universities:

  • According to a study by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the continuation of the GRV scheme is crucial for UK universities to offset financial losses from domestic sources. Restricting the GRV could exacerbate financial strains on these institutions .

Competitive Disadvantage:

  • Experts believe that reducing the post-study work offer would make the UK less appealing compared to other countries, pushing international students towards destinations that offer more stable post-graduation opportunities, such as Canada and Australia.
  • The UK, which had been gaining traction as an alternative study destination amid restrictions in other countries, may lose this advantage if the GRV scheme is curtailed .

Impact on Indian Students:

  • Indian students, who make up roughly 42% of GRV holders, would be significantly impacted by any changes to the scheme. Between 2021 and 2023, Indians accounted for 89,200 visas, highlighting their substantial presence and reliance on the GRV for post-study opportunities.

-Source: Indian Express

June 2024