Saturday, 10 September 2016

UK student visa policy and impact

The recent Brexit referendum has brought a lot of changes in the UK government’s policies and has created a lot of ripples, one of the changes is the international student visa policy. The UK has been a popular study destination for Indian students for a long time now, however, the new restrictions put in place by the government has seen a fall in the number of applications put through to UK universities. In 2012, UK scrapped the post-study work visa for international students which impacted a lot of Indian aspirants who planned to stay back in the UK to work post completion of their studies. A new addition to this policy does not allow non-EU international students to stay in the UK after the course.

It is said that UK universities could protest against the newly proposed policy since a large number of Indian and international students bring in a lot of revenue, and this change could impact the international applicants rolling into these universities. Being in an economic whirlwind presently, the higher the number of students willing to get admission without scholarships is beneficial to them.
Taking the support of the high-ranked universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Imperial College of London, the UK Home office has introduced a new Tier 4 Visa Pilot Scheme for students aspiring to pursue Masters at these universities which simplify the visa application process. This scheme comes into effect for applicants’ post-July 2016 seeking admission for Masters Programs.
Experts believe any further restrictions imposed on UK student visa will see a further decline in the already massively dropping number of applicants to UK universities and also encourage students to look for other international destinations to pursue higher studies.
U.S. visa fee hike – reasons and concerns.

The United States recently made an abrupt hike in the visa fees for the H1B and L1 visas. H1b and L1 visas are issued by the U.S. to the non-American knowledge workers, as a permission to work in the U..S. for a specified period of time. Now let’s get back to the question,

Why was the fee hiked?

According to the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2016, the visa fee on H-1B and L1 visa have been hiked to $4,000 (Rs 2.68 lakh) and $4,500 (Rs 3 lakh) respectively in order to shore up revenues for the 9/11 Response and Biometric Exit Fund. This will be applicable to companies that employ more than 50 people in the US and 50% of the employees are foreign nationals.
Arun Jaitley raised concerns about the hike, saying “India’s concern over the hike in the H-1B and L1 visa fee, which is discriminatory and in effect is largely targeted at Indian IT companies”.

Why are Indian IT companies concerned?

Because they are the biggest users of the H-1B and L1 visas (see table) and have to foot the fee bill. India’s three biggest IT companies Infosys, TCS and Wipro roughly employ around 15,000 people each in the US. These companies rely heavily on H-1B visa workers as the salary demanded is less. Last year the US government started investigations against Infosys and TCS after US workers were allegedly laid off to be replaced by H-1B workers. Wipro has also faced wage-related lawsuits.

What now?

Even though the U.S. claims to have seen no drop in the visa visa request and visas issued. India has taken up the matter with high officials to ask the U.S. to come up with a not-discriminatory solution to the problem.

Friday, 9 September 2016

No drop in visas issued.