Theresa May to 'kick out foreign graduates' in new immigration plans

Course graduates would have to return home before applying for visas

Foreign graduates could face being sent back to their home countries under plans to “move towards zero net student migration” reportedly being considered by Home Secretary Theresa May.

Students from non-European Union countries would have to subsequently apply for a work visa while abroad in order to continue living in the UK after finishing a course of study, The Sunday Times reported, instead of being able to apply for one while still on British soil.

A source close to the Home Secretary told the newspaper: “Making sure immigrants leave Britain at the end of their visa is as important a part of running a fair and efficient immigration system as controlling who comes here in the first place.”

Mrs May is also pressing for the power to be able to penalise colleges and universities that would have low success rates in ensuring the departure of foreign graduates and to deprive them of their right to sponsor overseas students, the source added.

Under current rules most students can apply for a work visa while still living in the UK, rather than having to leave the country to apply for one before potentially returning.


Mrs May has repeatedly clashed with Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable - whose department has responsibility for universities - about foreign students as he claims that tough rules could discourage them from choosing to study here.

A senior Lib Dem source said her plan could deprive the UK of highly-skilled graduates.

“Such a blunt instrument would not get our support,” the source said.

“The idea that you have people from abroad studying in this country and they become engineers or scientists of huge practical value to the economy and rather than have them stay here you immediately turf them out makes zero economic sense.”

Mrs May's plan emerged after Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that only the Tories can offer “competence” on dealing with immigration.

David Cameron claimed his government was fixing problems left by the Labour Party

Mr Cameron and Mrs May plan to reduce net annual migration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands by the next election, however the Home Secretary stated on the Andrew Marr Show that the target is likely to not be met.

The Prime Minister claimed that his coalition government has addressed some of the problems inherited from the previous Labour administration that “let immigration get out of control” and seeks to pinpoint those living in the UK illegally before deporting them by revoking driving licences, the ability to open a bank account and have landlords check on the immigration status of their tenants.

Mr Cameron also stated an “absolute requirement” to make changes to the welfare state for migrants in the hope to cut down the numbers of people moving to the UK from within the European Union.

He said: “I came into office with a single-minded determination to turn all this around - and real progress has been made.

“We put a cap on those coming here to work from outside the European Union - and we have seen the numbers fall significantly, close to levels last seen in the 1990s. Major work has been done to clamp down on the bogus ‘colleges’ that were really just a front for people to come here, with more than 800 of them shut down so far.”