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United Kingdom’s Graduate Route Visa (GRV) Scheme

  • Context (IE): The British PM is contemplating tweaking the United Kingdom’s Graduate Route visa (GRV) scheme with a view to curb the influx of international students to the country.
  • Currently, Indians constitute roughly 42% of GRV holders, again, the highest among all nationalities.
  • According to the UK Home Office, the number of student visas issued to Indians increased 54% between June 2022 and June 2023.

Graduate Route Visa (GRV) scheme

  • The GRV was introduced by the UK government in July 2021.
  • It permits individuals to remain in the UK for at least two years upon successful completion of a bachelor’s, post-graduate, or other eligible courses.
  • For those with PhDs or other doctoral qualifications, the GRV extends to a three-year stay.
  • A GRV applicant must be in the UK at the time of application and hold a Short-Term Study visa or a General Student Visa.
  • Additionally, the applicant’s education provider must notify the UK Home Office about the course’s successful completion.

Why do Indians seek GRVs?

  • Other visas: GRV provides a window for individuals to obtain other visas (such as a work visa) by finding a good sponsor or employer.
  • Allowing family: GRV allows families to accompany the GRV-holder if certain eligibility criteria are met.
  • Repayment of education cost: Students repay costly student loans by working in the UK after studies and making some money to lead a comfortable life.

Impact of possible GRV tweaks

  • Restricting GRVs could significantly reduce the number of international students seeking to study in the UK by creating uncertainty.
  • Restricting GRV only to the “best and brightest” will especially hinder the prospects of the ‘average’ student seeking to study in the UK.
  • Financial viability of British Universities: The fees paid by international students help universities cover the cost of teaching British students and conducting research.
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