The Graduate Visa – A Clean Bill Of Health From The MAC

Bindmans LLP


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When the current government announced it was ordering a rapid emergency review and investigation into the Graduate Visa route by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in March 2024...
UK Immigration
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When the current government announced it was ordering a rapid emergency review and investigation into the Graduate Visa route by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in March 2024, it did so claiming there was an abuse of the category by applicants (notably, at the time, the so-called abuse was not specified, but forms part of the ongoing rhetoric dominating the political debate). However, the much-anticipated MAC report , which was published on 14 May, did not substantiate the government's allegations!

On the contrary, as noted in news outlets across the globe and witnessed by many immigration lawyers, employers and universities, the opposite is true.

The report undermines the government's spurious claims and confirms that graduates from UK universities are highly skilled, highly motivated contributors to the UK; economically (both due to the visa application and Immigration Health Surcharge fees that must be paid when making a visa application and through tax and National Insurance contributions), socially and intellectually. The MAC found that Graduate Visa holders move into skilled employment, not "the gig economy" and that it is not a "backdoor for foreign students to do low wage work" as the former immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, charmingly called it last week.

The MAC Committee (which was made up of five university professors and a Home Office representative) found "no evidence of widespread abuse". Rather, the report provided evidence of the considerable benefits the Graduate Visa path and visa holders bring to the UK, citing expansion of ranges of courses on offer, financial loss offsetting for universities and research facilities, and how the route makes the UK an attractive place for the world's best talent.

The report also highlights that removing the Graduate Visa option from the UK Immigration Rules would have a detrimental impact in many sectors, in particular STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), on research and the UK's standing in the world, and on vital funding that universities rely on.

The report advised that there should be a crackdown on international student recruitment agents and rightly identifies that this is a separate issue from the supposed concerns the government had (and which have been disproved).

The government has yet to respond to the report and it remains to be seen which wing of the Tory party will prevail when there is a comment. One can only hope that it reflects on the findings and acknowledges that the Graduate Visa category is indeed a positive immigration status and one which greatly benefits the UK in many ways.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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