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New UK Visa Rules: Elite Firms Withdraw Job Offers from Nigerian Students, Others

Vanishing Jobs Prospects Deter Nigerians and other foreigners from Investing in UK Degrees

Recently, major UK graduate employers like HSBC, Deloitte, and KPMG have withdrawn offers to international graduates, Arbiterz learned….Sola Adebara, who spoke with Arbiterz on Sunday, said he declined his offer of admission to a UK university owing to the change in visa rules.

 

 

Foreign graduates in the United Kingdom, including Nigerians, who seek to settle in Britain through the skilled worker visa route, are facing uncertainty as the UK government tightens its visa rules for legal migration to the country.

British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak’s government, in April, raised the main salary threshold for skilled worker visas from £26,200 to £38,700, the UK median for full-time staff.

The move was in a bid to reduce record levels of legal migration and in response to pressure from the right wing of the ruling Conservative party.

While some companies can still hire recent graduates under 26 years old at a minimum salary of £30,960, these changes are already forcing businesses to rethink their recruitment strategies.

Recently, major UK graduate employers like HSBC, Deloitte, and KPMG have withdrawn offers to international graduates, Arbiterz learned.

 

UK visa rules Nigerian students
Job offers to foreign students from highly sought-after firms in UK finance and consulting sectors are been withdrawn because of recent changes in visa rules

 

According to a Financial Times report, some HSBC graduates received automated messages from human resources, with no detailed explanation of the job offer withdrawals. The Economic Times reports that HSBC acknowledged the situation, stating they must adhere to market regulations and are in discussions with those affected.

Deloitte and EY have declined to comment on the issue.

KPMG had reportedly cancelled contracts for foreign graduates the previous month. HSBC consulted with EY to review the visa eligibility changes, while Deloitte noted that the new criteria rendered some roles ineligible for visa sponsorship, according to The Economic Times.

Also Read: What the New UK Migration Policy Means for Nigerians

Previous case law suggested employers could violate discrimination rules if they rejected candidates based solely on nationality and visa status. However, they are now unable to increase salaries for international recruits without doing the same for their UK hires—a move that would significantly raise costs for employing junior staff.

“For fairness, consistency, and due to the structured nature of our graduate programmes, we are unable to renegotiate or artificially inflate salaries to meet eligibility criteria,” a source familiar with KPMG’s response to the visa changes told Financial Times.

 

Ed Richardson, Programme Director for People and Skills at BusinessLDN, a lobby group representing around 170 employers including Lloyds Bank, Unilever, and Deloitte, added that many companies faced a “crossover point” where “simply paying more” to candidates was “not viable.”

The new salary requirements, according to an FT report, will particularly impact sectors such as manufacturing, where employers have increasingly sought overseas candidates for mid-level technical roles. Even in the high-paying tech sector, data centre staff, who often earn below the new threshold, are in short supply. The changes will also affect professional roles, especially outside London where salaries tend to be lower.

Brian Bell, Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), stated that the new salary requirements for skilled workers would effectively limit the system to professional roles and more experienced hires—excluding many who “were not undercutting [UK wages] or being exploited and were contributing to taxes.”

Also Read: FGN Jobs for The Chosen Few: How to Resist Secret & Discriminatory Recruitment

One of the affected persons who had an offer withdrawn by Deloitte summed up their frustration in an interview with FT, saying, “Without any back-up jobs and no time to apply to other jobs as I was in my final exam period, I was left stranded by Deloitte with absolutely no warning or prior knowledge about this change. This is an extremely unfair decision.”

UK Visa Rules Nigerian students , graduates found jobs in the NHS
Recent Nigerian UK university graduates and their spouses have found jobs in the NHS. New rules make spouses ineligible for work visas

The changes to the skilled worker visa scheme are part of a broader government initiative to reduce legal net migration, which reached a record high of 745,000 in 2022. Sunak’s government has also banned master’s students from bringing family members to the UK and is considering changes to the two-year graduate visa.

The MAC has, however, advised against discontinuing the graduate visa scheme, which permits overseas students to work in the UK for two years post-graduation.

With the new visa rules, prospective foreign students are beginning to consider studying in other countries rather than the UK.

Sola Adebara, who spoke with Arbiterz on Sunday, said he declined his offer of admission to a UK university owing to the change in visa rules.

Another prospective student who does not want his name in print told Arbiterz, “I’d rather spend my money on education in places like Canada, the United States, or even Australia than waste it on the UK where there is no longer a future for international students.”

A 2023 report, ‘The Costs and Benefits of International Higher Education Students to the UK’, published by Universities UK International (UUKi), the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), and Kaplan International Pathways in collaboration with London Economics, reveals the growing importance of international students to local economies throughout the UK.

The report, which was commissioned to explore the impact of international students on the UK economy, revealed that economic benefits rose from £31.3 billion to £41.9 billion between 2018/19 and 2021/22, an increase of 34 per cent.

“The data also confirm that – even when accounting for the impact on public services (estimated at £4.4 billion) – the economic benefits of hosting international students significantly outweigh the costs with a total net benefit of £37.4 billion to the UK economy,” the report said.

Interest in studying in the UK has declined dramatically. According to ICEF, “Between 2017/18 and 2021/22, the number of Nigerian students in the UK grew from 10,685 to 44,195, a 314% increase and the second highest rate of growth after India (517%). Last year, Nigeria was the third largest market for the UK after China and India”. The agency cites a “76% decrease in visa issuances” in January 2024, arising from Nigeria’s economic and foreign exchange challenges and unfavourable visa changes.

 

Abdullah Tijani

Abdullah Tijani studied Law at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, and has over five years journalism experience, including writing on business and economy.

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