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Downing Street team sent in to investigate work visa system


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A science and research plan published today suggests increased central government scrutiny on Home Office work visa rules and operations. The plan promises a new “Office for Talent” operating out of 10 Downing Street, which “will make it easier for those with the most talent, potential, energy and creativity to come to the UK”.

According to a press release issued by the Business Secretary:

The Office will begin work immediately to review the effectiveness of the current rules and ensure excellent customer service across the immigration system, so that it is simple, easy, and quick. They will also help those coming to the UK better understand the opportunities on offer and break down any barriers they might face.

Former junior minister Jo Johnson tweeted that the “contrast with hostile bureaucracy approach of recent years could not be clearer”. The Home Office often comes into conflict with government departments that are in favour of immigration for economic reasons.

The announcement also includes new information on the graduate route due to start up in the summer of 2021. While international students who complete a UK undergraduate or master’s degree with be able to stay on for two years afterwards, PhD graduates are to get three years.

On student visas, the announcement promises a shake-up of Tier 4, which will be relaunched as a “student route” this autumn with “a number of improvements”. These include:

extending the window in which prospective students can make visa applications, removing study time limits at postgraduate level and allowing all students to switch to another type of visa from within the UK. Existing students and those who start their course this autumn will benefit from these changes, once they have been introduced.

Nichola says that “the latest plans are welcome news, especially for the education sector, recovering from a decade of damaging restrictions on student migration. We look forward to seeing new Immigration Rules that do, in practice, reflect these ambitious statements, help visa applicants break down barriers and end the practice of deliberately seeking to catch people out”. As do we all.

Meanwhile, the Immigration Bill to switch off free movement for EU citizens passed its remaining stages in the House of Commons last night. The plan is for new arrivals from EU countries, bar Ireland, to come under the adjusted Points Based System for non-EU migrants from the beginning of 2021.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.