BORIS JOHNSON was last night accused of opening a new “backdoor route” into Britain by binning tough controls on foreign students.
Under new proposals, unlimited numbers of foreign students will have the right to look for a job – “at any skill level” – for up two years after graduating in the UK, regardless of the quality of their course.
It sweeps away a four month limit introduced by former PM Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.
Sources claimed the climbdown was drawn up by the PM’s brother Jo Johnson – who quit the Cabinet last week over Brexit.
The PM last night said the reforms were designed to ensure Britain remains open to the “brightest and the best” after Brexit.
But campaign groups said it was almost certain to see thousands of students competing with Brits for lower-skilled work. Some 450,000 overseas students study in the UK each year.
Alp Mehmet, Migration Watch chair, stormed: “This unwise and retrograde step will likely lead to foreign graduates staying on to stack shelves, as happened before.
“Our universities are attracting a record number of overseas students so there is no need to devalue a study visa by turning it into a backdoor route for working here.”
The PM insisted the “new immigration route” would help sectors such as science, technology and engineering.
Telecoms giants have warned that without more liberal immigration rules the PM stands “no chance” of delivering his goal of rolling full-fibre broadband out across Britain by 2025 because of a lack of engineers.
‘UNWISE AND RETROGADE STEP’
Mr Johnson said the discovery of DNA in Cambridge over sixty years ago wouldn’t have been possible without a team of international researchers.
And he said: “Breakthroughs of this kind wouldn’t be possible without being open to the brightest and best from across the globe to study and work in the UK.
“That’s why we’re unveiling a new route for international students to unlock their potential and start their careers in the UK.”
But No.10 conceded eligible students would be able to “work, or look for work, at any skill level” if they have “completed a course in any subject at undergraduate level”.
Students will only have to have been offered a place on a course and have enough money to “support yourself”. No.10 added: “There will be no cap on the number of students who can apply for the new Graduate Route.”
Mrs May in 2012 scrapped a post-study work visa which allowed non-EU students to stay in the UK for up to two years. She claimed the rules were being abused.
In March, the Government said it was minded to extend the post-study leave period from four months to six for undergraduate and masters students.
Boris Johnson announced plans for an amnesty on illegal immigrants during his leadership campaign.
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The SNP last night declared victory after Boris Johnson’s “screeching” U-turn.
Stuart McDonald MP, said: “We have been campaigning hard for the reintroduction of the post-study work visa ever since the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government’s damaging decision to scrap it in 2012.
“This long overdue move underlines the absurdity of this shambolic Tory government, and their harmful and erratic hostile environment policies.”
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