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UK Government Contemplates Deporting International Students with Poor Grades

UK Government Contemplates Deporting International Students with Poor Grades

British tabloids have reported that, as part of a five-point plan aiming to reduce net migration by 300,000 from its current record-high levels, James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, has requested the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to conduct a review of the graduate visa.

In the year leading up to June 2023, over 98,000 students were granted two-year visas to stay in the UK post-graduation, marking a significant 74% increase, with 42,000 more students receiving the visa compared to the previous year. Notably, the refusal rate for those applying after completing their initial UK course was less than 1% (0.7%).

Concerns have arisen that the graduate visa is being exploited as a backdoor route to secure employment in the UK, often in low-skilled positions, or as a means for individuals to stay in the country for two years without the obligation to seek employment.

Commenting on the recent directive, chairman of the MAC, Professor Brian Bell said;

“There’s no requirement to get particular grades in your university course or anything like that. That’s the question we want to review in the graduate route to think about whether that’s sensible or whether you should have a rule that says you have to achieve a certain grade or a certain kind of achievement in your course.”

Professor Bell said his committee would also investigate whether there should be further restrictions which would only allow foreign students to stay in the UK if they went to certain universities or completed specified courses. It could also be limited to certain types of job or activities.

He added;

“At the moment, there’s no restriction on what you can do. You can, if you’ve got the money, just sit around and do nothing in the UK for two years. You can also take a minimum wage job or you can take a very highly paid job.”

In its annual report, the MAC also revealed the care worker visa route is being abused as a backdoor to bring illegal migrants into the UK and exploit foreign staff as cheap and, in some cases, unpaid bonded labour.

In one fraud, a care company was granted 498 visas for care workers before Border Force discovered it had been “dormant”. An investigation into another migrant who had provided false employment letters for his past hospital work uncovered another dormant firm that had sponsored 40 care worker visas. Certificates of sponsorship for jobs were also being openly sold on social media.

Home Office investigators had also found “numerous” examples of bonded labour where foreign workers were illegally being forced to pay a portion of their salary for rent or visa services. They found 25 cases where it was written into workers’ contracts.

The MAC said there was also evidence of zero-hours contracts, unpaid hours and workers not being paid at all. One person had not received a salary in six months by a company that had sponsored 263 applicants.

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