It is expected that from October 2016, new rules introduced by the British Government will make it easier and cheaper for employers to recruit non-EU graduate trainees.
The government has plans to increase the number of tier 2 Graduate Trainee places available to each UK Sponsor Licence holder from five to twenty places each year. The minimum salary requirement will also be lowered from £24,800 to £23,000.
This offers a great advantage to both graduates and employers, not to mention Higher Education Institutes who rely on full-fee paying foreign students to help balance their books.
Why the change of heart?
Both David Cameron and his successor Theresa May (who at the time was Home Secretary) were heavily criticised for including international students within their policies to try and reduce net migration. According to a report by British Future and Universities UK, international students from outside the European Union contributed £7 billion to the economy in 2014.
In 2012, the Government scrapped the post-study work visa which had allowed those on a Tier 4 student visa to remain in the country for two years after graduating. They now have four months to find a job or get out of the country. They also have to leave the UK to apply for a new visa or extend their student visa.
In a speech at the Chartered Association of Business Schools’ annual conference late last year, Iain Wright, Labour MP for Hartlepool stated:
“It seems to me to be absolute madness to have a system whereby we educate foreign students in business and management to the highest standards anywhere in the world, only for them to leave this country before they contribute to the UK economy and apply those skills to the betterment of our competitiveness.....Why on earth do we allow skills learned in this country to quickly and directly benefit other economies’ productivity?
Other countries recognise the entrepreneurial strengths of postgraduate students and countries like the US, Canada and Germany are actively encouraging those talented business leaders of the future, those entrepreneurs of the 21st century, to settle in their countries and set up businesses there.”
Many business leaders were also highly critical of the difficulties placed on non-EU graduates who wanted to remain in the UK after completing their study. Business leaders such as Sir James Dyson argued at the time restrictions were brought in:
“It is difficult enough getting skilled young engineers through the visa system already, without further tightening of the Immigration Rules.”
Universities and colleges also worry that tough laws will put foreign students off from coming to Britain to further their education. It seems that the Government has listened to these concerns from interested sectors and decided to relax some rules, giving talented graduates the chance to stay in the UK via a Graduate Training Program.
How employers can hire a Graduate Trainee
Employers who wish to hire a graduate trainee must obtain a UK Sponsor Licence. To obtain a Sponsor Licence your business must be trading in the UK and have the HR capabilities to comply with the responsibilities dictated by Home Office policies and regulations.
To get a Sponsor Licence you will need to instruct an immigration lawyer. Home Office officials may visit your premises unannounced to see if your policies and procedures are up-to-date and compliant. An immigration solicitor can do a mock audit, ensuring you a fully prepared for the real event.
Employers who are recruiting graduate trainees are exempted from having to conduct a Residential Labour Market Test (to establish that no British residence could do the job). The person recruited must however have been granted permission to stay in the UK as a Tier 4 student and have:
- passed and been awarded a UK recognised Bachelors or Master’s Degree or;
- passed and been awarded a UK Postgraduate Certificate in Education or;
- a Professional Graduate Diploma of Education or have finished a minimum of 12 months’ study towards a UK PhD.
In another change aimed at assisting employers hire non-EU graduate trainees, from October 2016 tier 2 visa applications from overseas graduates will receive greater weighting within the monthly tier 2 visa allocation system, granting them a higher chance of approval within this competitive system.
The new rules will also allow graduate visa holders to change roles within their sponsor organisation once their training period is over and they have secured a permanent position. This will go a long way to assist employers in retaining talented staff.
To find out more about the relaxation of the Graduate Trainee laws as they apply to international students please contact the immigration solicitors at OTS Solicitors, who are recognised as some of the best employment and immigration lawyers in London.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in the UK. By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available. We will assist you with all aspects of hiring a non-EU national graduate trainee or applying for a trainee position well before your Tier 4 student visa expires.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0207 936 9960.
For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 020 7936 9960 or contact us online.
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Posted on: Friday, 26 August, 2016