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Closed petition Extend date for existing students to switch to Skilled Worker visa

We want Government to postpone the rule implemented on 17 July 2023 which prevents existing students from moving to a Skilled Worker without completing studies. We believe this rule should only be implemented on new students starting in January 2024.

More details

We believe this change is unfair and unjustified as when students came the rules allowed them to switch onto the Skilled Worker visa route without completing studies and existing students should not be prevented from switching in this way. The rule should be implemented to new students starting from January 2024.

There should be no retrospective effect on law, it should be implemented on new students coming from January 2024 onwards.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

15,579 signatures

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Government responded

This response was given on 15 August 2023

The Government has no plans to change the implementation date of the rule ending switching early from the student route to the skilled worker route. The student visa is for study.

Read the response in full

The primary purpose of the Student visa route is to allow people to come to the UK to study, not to work. Students should not be making plans when they come to the UK to switch without completing their studies and this is the type of behaviour the rules change is designed to discourage. With regards to the retrospective effect of the law, we often apply transitional arrangements when people are remaining in the same route. However, when someone is switching immigration routes, the rules that apply are those in place at the time they switch, not the rules in place when they first entered the UK under a different route entirely. Someone switching is effectively a new applicant and therefore should make their application outside of the UK. We believe this is the right approach.

The Government considers the implementation of the changes to switching rules in July to be necessary and proportionate. The changes were announced in Parliament and widely reported on 23 May 2023, and there has therefore already been sufficient notice that the changes are taking place. Furthermore, the Government wanted to reduce the possibility of a large number of applications for switching being made.

We needed to crack down on broader abuse of the system and prevent people using the Student route as a backdoor to looking for work (rather than genuinely staying to complete their studies).

There is an exception for PhD students, who are permitted to switch after they have completed 24 months toward their PhD. This is in recognition that PhD students often, for example, become employed by their university as a lecturer or researcher while completing their thesis.

We keep our policies under review to ensure we have a system that best serves the country and reflects the priorities of the UK. That is why we have updated the rules.

We appreciate that students who are eligible may want to work while they are in the UK, and they can continue to do so. Student visa holders who are following a full-time course of degree level or above study at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance or are sponsored by an overseas higher education institution to undertake a short-term study abroad programme in the UK, are entitled to work 20 hours per week during term-time. Full-time employment is permitted outside of term-time.

Students coming to the end of their full-time degree course with a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance may apply for Skilled Worker or other sponsored work routes, as long as their Certificate of Sponsorship start date is not more than 3 months away and is not before their course completion date.

Home Office