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Two-year work rights for international students in UK reinstated for 2020/21

The UK education sector is elated that post-study work rights are set to be offered to international students for two years post-graduation, with students graduating in the 2020/21 academic year set to benefit from this new immigration rule.

Work rights for international students in the UK will be rolled out for all - the welcome mat is out again, say stakeholders.

"The economy, universities and students will all benefit from a more sensible approach"

In the midst of a political meltdown, the government revealed the policy change as part of an announcement about the world’s largest genetics research project also being launched, with the emphasis on the UK’s need for expertise – notably in STEM fields – made apparent.

“This will put the UK back where we ought to be”

“International students make up half of all full-time postgraduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects. The new immigration route… will mean international graduates in any subject, including STEM, will be able to stay in the UK for two years to find work,” read the statement.

UUKi director Vivienne Stern, just back from a trade delegation to India, welcomed the change.

She told The PIE News, “This will put the UK back where we ought to be – a first-choice destination for international students. We lost ground in the last few years, particularly in South Asia.”

It was a rule that the sector had been campaigning hard for, particularly in the last few years, since the same two-year work rights were rescinded in 2012.

Indian student enrolments were particularly impacted by the post-study restrictions, with corresponding huge growth in Indian enrolments in Canada.

“In India last week, there was huge press and student interest in the likelihood of this change so I feel very confident that the announcement will result in a real bounce in interest in the UK,” noted Stern.

“This is very positive news,” echoed UUK chief executive Alastair Jarvis.

“Evidence shows that international students bring significant positive social outcomes to the UK as well as £26 billion in economic contributions, but for too long the lack of post-study work opportunities in the UK has put us at a competitive disadvantage in attracting those students.”

According to a government statement, the new PSW visa will be available to students who have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a UK HEI which has a “proven track record” in upholding immigration checks.

There will be no cap on the number of applications.

The new immigration route will enable eligible students to work or job hunt at any skill level, and they will be able to switch to the Skilled Work route if they find a job which meets its requirements.

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed at a UUK conference that graduates of the 2020/21 academic year are expected to be the first graduating year to benefit.

The sector has enthusiastically welcomed the news. “At last. Godot has finally arrived,” HEPI director Nick Hillman told The PIE.

“All the evidence suggests we need a better regime. We’ve been slipping behind our competitors because our offer has been so uncompetitive. The economy, universities and students will all benefit from a more sensible approach.”

The new regulations are good news for the ELT sector as well, English UK commented, highlighting the sector’s role as a pipeline for HEIs and expressing hope the news will enhance its competitiveness on the global stage.

“This announcement makes the UK a more attractive place to study,” English UK marketing director Annie Wright told The PIE.

“It is likely to mean that more young people and their families will choose the UK’s ELT sector to start their educational journeys or prepare for university study, in the knowledge that they can get a valuable two extra years of experience and using their skills in the workplace.

“We can also hope that this is only the start of making the UK more attractive to all international students through the visa system and positive messaging, so that the ELT sector can compete effectively with other destinations.”

The policy change has “been a really long time coming”, as Stern noted, with many sector stakeholders actively engaged in lobbying for the past few years.

“We felt we had won the policy argument some time ago, but it really took some dogged persistence to make sure that minister after minister pressed for the change in government,” she explained.

“At last. Godot has finally arrived”

Stern said particular credit should go to outgoing universities minister Jo Johnson (who resigned last week), but also to his predecessor Chris Skidmore, and to Paul Blomfield, Lord Hannay and Lord Karan Bilimoria who have “pressed and pressed for years to get the government to make the visa system welcoming, rather than off-putting, to international students.”

Hillman agreed. “I shall forever think of it as the Jo Johnson memorial policy, given the excellent work he did on this in and out of office,” he added.

UPDATE: The UK government has posted a fact sheet on the details around the PSW visa here

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62 Responses to Two-year work rights for international students in UK reinstated for 2020/21

  1. Does the post study work visa apply to the current students started on 2019 and ending 2021? Because we have one more year to go, are we eligible for this option? Please reply..
    Thanks in advance

  2. Providers can now re-invest in building relationships with transnational international alumni who will live and work in the UK while maintaining close ties to home country. Authentically engage and build relationships with these brand ambassadors who can be part of your recruitment and employability tool kits!!

  3. what will be the policy for those graduates who have completed their degrees during the closure of this visa route from 2013 to 2019. they all should be invited to apply it they have UK degree.

  4. What is fault of current students. If the policy is to encourage international students to stay, then allow current ones to stay as well.

    Ignoring current students means (we have got your fees, we have got your visa fees, we have also got your time in UK. Now, if you want to stay you give fees again, your visa fees again and your time again to UK).

    Not fair, is it?

    • Honestly this is unfair. Some of the CURRENT student have contributed immensely to UK economy. They have put in their money, energy and skills. They witness the PWS announcement. Some still have Tier 4 visa and are graduating this year. Why are they not part of the benefiary? Why are they excluded. Honestly, thus is a big slap on the current Tier 4 student. For instance someone that did master and PhD with lots of money got no PWS and someone that just got admitted for master this year will get PWS. This is absolutely injustice, please review!

    • No it is only eligible for ones who will be graduating in summer 2021 or later .because the new norms states that the one who is going to graduate before summer 2021 will only get 4 or 6 months to find a job depending on the course.if you will graduate next year in summer or later u will be eligible for the benefits

  5. Will it apply for a students visa from 2019 and graduating 2023 ? on my visa it says 4 months after i graduate, but will this extension apply to me

  6. Is everybody actually believing this?
    With Brexit coming up accompanied with inflation + unemployment rate increase + social tension increase + rise of racism incidents, they now want international students to stay for 2 years after graduation? Not very convincing.

    Just a tactic to get more money from int students while the economy is going downhill.

    Gotta think critically y’all.

  7. Does the new PSW apply to students on PGCE courses? It is the same level as a master degree. I remember the old PSW pre-2012 used to cover this course. However in the gov statement it refers to a ‘degree’.

  8. Honestly the policy is so ridiculous if it cant very extended to students who will be graduating next year. I will be finishing my masters in London next year and it is unfortunate if I wont be able to qualify for this.

    • Next year will be 2020 and they said on the article that the rule will be starting from 2020 so if you graduate in 2020 I believe you can apply

  9. All the UK universities and students should write emails and request to extend the policy for students joining in 2019 and graduating in 2020. This would help to advocate the cause.

  10. Great News. Friend of mine is an international student starting his MSc degree in 2 weeks time. Should he defer his degree to next year to benefit of the 2 years postgraduate visa? Or is it too late now as he already has his study visa?

  11. I’m just done with my masters waiting for my graduation. My graduation will be in January. I’m September 2018 intake will our batch get PSE? That’s kind of unfair for us. We should get the benefit of PSW as we’re currently studying and staying In UK

  12. I did finished my bachelors in 2012 (two months after the PSW was revoked), later I went on doing master and did two masters degree and returned to India in 2015. What is the chances for graduates like me, can we apply for PSW now?

  13. Hi just want to ask. I am coming for masters of 1 year in uk in Jan 2020 intake. Am I eligible for this 2 years psw visa?

    • Hi Faisal same here. I have also applied for masters of 1 year in UK in January 2020 and my course ending period will be Jan 2021. Is PSW available for us as well or not ????? Even I’m confused about it

  14. This is regarding the recent PSW visa announcement.
    I had post study work visa from 2010 to 2012 .
    I am planning to take another post graduate course in the UK in 2020. Will I be eligible to get the post study work visa after my course completion?

    Yours faithfully,
    Pallavi Dodia

  15. I wanted your help to know the information about ICT tier 2 UK visa.I travelled to UK on 1st Dec 2018 and came back from UK to India on 31st March 2019.i have valid ICT tier 2 UK visa till December 2019.So Now I want to come to UK for the work.So I just wanted to know is there any cooling period applicable for me.Or can I travel now to UK.

  16. I want to restart my studies after 10 years as i had completed my graduation in 2010 i was not serious about my studies but now i have realised importance of education .kindly guide me through theis .. can i get admission in the uk

  17. Does this apply to pakistani international students going to university for the academic year 2020-2021 ? Will they be granted post two year work rights ?

  18. Well i m doing M.Sc in international bussiness management i m student of janu.. 2020 intake student so can u let me knw that am i eligible to get psw after completion of my study plese let me knw, answered me .I will b very thanlful to u for the kind infor…

  19. Now!! Because of covid people hesistate to immigrant in 2020 then is it not gonna apply for 2021 intakes?

  20. Hello. Are September 2019 intake students graduating in January 2021 and visa ending in January 2021 eligible for PSW?

  21. Hello. Are September 2019 intake students graduating in January 2021 and visa ending in January 2021 eligible for PSW?
    Please reply !!

  22. I joined Masters in 2020. The course in the CAS and the course doing the present are separate. Due to the some reasons I changed my course. But both are same duration (2years) courses. Am I eligible to PSW????

  23. My son joined uni in 2017 for 4 years study in maths and physics .is he eligible for psw as he will finish his masters in 2021. He has a joined bachelor’s and masters in kings college.

  24. I want to find out something concerning the UK Graduate Route Post Study Work Visa that will be introduced next.
    So I started my masters in 2018, I had some Mitigation circumstances hence had to resit a module after being approved by the university. However it was a resit without residence, I cleared the module now and I was now given a chance to proceed with my dissertation which I will only submit in January and mostly graduate in summer 2021.

    Could I be eligible to apply for this scheme next year since I will graduate in summer 2021 though I currently don’t have a tier 4 student visa but still completing my studies on distance.

  25. I am able to get psw visa after my masters. Then if I do PhD, will I get further psw visa after completing phd degree?

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