CIC welcomes visa extension for foreign students

4 October 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has welcomed Home Office plans to allow international students a two-year work visa after graduating from a British University, rather than the four months they are allowed currently.

The move would overturn a decision made in 2012 by then-home secretary Theresa May.

Currently, graduates with bachelors or master’s degrees are allowed to look for work for only four months. From next year, they could be allowed to stay in the country for two years under the proposals.

CIC said it had been lobbying for just such a change and it was also a recommendation in the 2017 report Building on Brexit from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment, for which CIC provides the secretariat.

There were around 450,000 international students in the UK last year. In order to qualify under the new proposals they must be studying at an institution with a track record in upholding immigration checks. There would be no restriction on the kinds of jobs students would have to seek and no cap on numbers.

CIC Chair Stephen Hodder said: “Allowing students from disciplines in the built environment to stay in the UK to gain professional qualifications will provide one of the easiest ways of ensuring UK construction firms have access to skills.

“It is a no brainer. Overseas students trained by UK firms bring with them diverse ideas and also, when they return to their home countries, they can help foster work opportunities for UK services,” he added.

CIC chief executive Graham Watts added: “As the APPG report Building on Brexit made clear, Brexit could have a significant damaging impact on the skills the industry will need and put the delivery of new homes and a raft of new infrastructure in jeopardy if access to migrant workers is suddenly withdrawn.

“Whilst this move will does not address the issues around skilled site labour it will help alleviate shortages in many of the professions like engineering and architecture.” 

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