‘U.K. will take measures to attract students, skilled labour’

A year after the Brexit deal and amidst the vaccination drive against COVID-19, the United Kingdom will roll out measures aimed at attracting students and skilled labour from countries such as India.

Among these are post-study work visas and flexibility in points awarded to different aspects, such as English language ability and skills for work visas, said British Deputy High Commissioner to Karnataka and Kerala, Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford at a virtual press briefing here on Thursday.

“Points will be awarded for a job offer at the appropriate skill level, if they speak English and meet the appropriate salary threshold. This allows greater flexibility. Before, there were limited chances of obtaining a visa if, for example, you did well in English but had no skills. About half of our entrepreneur visas are from India. So given the large share, India will certainly benefit,” he said.

According to the British Deputy High Commissioner, as far as work visas are concerned, Indians account for almost half (45%) of all tier 2 visas (skilled worker visa) granted, but the number of grants fell by 36% to 36,219 in the year ending September 2020. There were increases for Nigeria (+19%) and Egypt (+9%).

On the other hand, with regard to student visas, Indians saw a notable increase in the number of tier 4 visas granted. “India was the only one to see a large increase and now account for 26% of all tier 4 visas in the year ending September 2020, up from 11% a year earlier.

While tier 4 visas to Indians decreased by 6,444 or 48% from April-August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 due to COVID-19, the significant increase in other months of the year ending September 2020 sustained a notable increase compared to 2019,” details shared by the commission said.

For the year ending September 2020, there were just over one million applications for visitor visas, a decrease of 61% compared to the previous year.

However, COVID concessions were doled out for students, with those starting their studies in the one year master’s degree courses in January 2021 still being eligible to apply for the Graduate Route even if they are studying remotely, provided they are in the U.K. by September 27, 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the U.K. Students who were starting courses in summer and autumn 2020 could still be eligible for the Graduate Route, provided they are in the U.K. by April 6, 2021 and meet the other requirements of the route.

Speaking about the ongoing vaccination drive, Mr. Pilmore-Bedford said the U.K. is “very keen to ensure that the vaccine is available to most people around the world,” and that India is an ideal partnership for this because of its vaccine manufacturing capacity.

“For the U.K., the Prime Minister is working on getting sufficient people vaccinated by March. Most of England is in tier 4, but the hope is that by the end of March, people will move out of severe tierage. The goal is to have the whole of adult population vaccinated by summer,” he said. Though the emergence of new variants of the virus is certain, our scientists will be ahead of the game, he said.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 5:07:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/uk-will-take-measures-to-attract-students-skilled-labour/article33628968.ece

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