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Report: UK PM Sunak retracts plan to limit graduate visas after cabinet criticism

Rishi Sunak, prime minister of the United Kingdom (UK), has withdrawn plans to cap the graduate visa after facing pressure from some of his senior cabinet colleagues.

Sunak had reportedly been considering restricting and even scrapping the visa route, which allows students to work in the UK for up to two years after graduation.

However, Sky News said the period will remain in place after appeals from David Cameron, foreign secretary; Jeremy Hunt, chancellor; Gillian Keegan, education secretary; and James Cleverly, home secretary.

The cabinet members were reported to have raised concerns about the impact on universities and the economy if the rules were changed.

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The prime minister is expected to consider other tactics to close loopholes and “prevent abuse” of the legal immigration system.

The report added that there will be some additional measures announced by the government this week to coincide with the latest net migration figures being published.

The measures are said to include the tightening of restrictions on agents that market British degree courses overseas and subjecting some international students to mandatory English tests.

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Migration in the UK has been a very slippery subject among authorities in the government, who either tackle it with stiff opposition or advocate for a points-based system that prioritises skills and economic contribution.

On Wednesday, Suella Braverman, former home secretary, opposed the move to retain the graduate visa route and called for the whole scheme to be scrapped.

During her tenure, Braverman was very vocal about her aspirations to cut down on net migration.

In January 2023, the former home secretary drew up a plan to deport foreign students if they stayed longer than six months in the country after the completion of their studies without finding a job.

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The proposal was met with strong criticism by the country’s department of education.

Sunak is also facing pressure from key figures in his administration to curb soaring migration numbers after data from the Home Office showed that half a million student visas were issued in 2022, while the number of dependants of overseas students increased by 750 percent since 2019.

Some reforms that the prime minister has made include stopping students and caregivers from bringing dependents and increasing the salary someone has to earn to qualify for a visa.

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