The British High Commission in Colombo announced today that the U.K  plans to launch a Health and Care Visa, in the coming months, creating a new fast-track visa route for health and care professionals to work in the National Health Service in the UK.

The announcement came as the  U.K also announced it is opening doors to international students with the option of a two year work visa after graduation.

The British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Sarah Hulton commented, ‘Four of the top ten universities in the world are based in the UK, with a reputation for exceptional academic standards. Our universities are very much looking forward to welcoming students from Sri Lanka for the next academic year. Every student contributes to the learning environment in the UK in their own way. This cultural exchange builds life-long friendships, and lays the foundations for future personal and professional success’.

The UK government is working closely with the universities to ensure the utmost flexibility for international students coming to the UK for the new academic year, carefully considering visa regulations, learning models and student safety.

Although admissions processes and modes of teaching might look slightly different this year, students are encouraged to apply even if they think they might be unable to travel to the UK to meet usual timelines.

Universities will be flexible in accommodating circumstances where possible, including where students are unable to travel to the UK in time for the start of the academic year. Students are encouraged to contact their chosen or prospective universities to ask any questions about course delivery in 2020/21.

From the end of the academic year in 2021, international students will be able to benefit from two years’ work experience in the UK upon graduation, via the new Graduate Immigration Route. Successful undergraduate and masters students will be able to stay and work in the UK for a period of up to two years. PhD graduates will be able to remain in the UK for three years. Those studying through blended learning will be eligible to apply for the Graduate Immigration Route provided they are in the UK by 6 April 2021 and meet other requirements of the scheme.

The Country Director of British Council Sri Lanka Gill Caldicott said,

“A brilliant opportunity with the option of a 2 year work visa after graduation. This means that young Sri Lankan’s will have access to a world class university education and a work experience that will enhance employment and career opportunities. It’s a recipe for success for individuals and for the continuing educational, scientific and cultural links between our two countries.”

The Head of the Prosperity Team at the British High Commission added,

‘The UK’s strength in the sciences has been showcased during the global pandemic, with many of the UK’s institutions at the forefront of global efforts to understand and combat the coronavirus. Sri Lanka is playing an important part in this, with joint work between scientists at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at University of Oxford and the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. The UK government and the British High Commission is helping to support and fund this joint work’.

International students who are considering study in the UK should apply for their visas in good time. The UK’s Visa Application Centre in Colombo opened on 6 July.

The British High Commission also announced that its flagship scholarship programme ‘Chevening’ will be open for applications again this year. Prospective Masters students’ can learn more via the High Commission’s Twitter (@UKinSriLanka) and Facebook (@bhccolombo) over the coming weeks.

In parallel, the British High Commission also announced a Health and Care Visa, which will be launched formally in the coming months, creating a new fast-track visa route for health and care professionals to work in the National Health Service in the UK.

Eligible Sri Lankan nationals, and their immediate family members, will benefit from fast-track visa processing, reduced visa fees and will not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. The visa will make it easier, quicker and cheaper for the best global health professionals to work in the NHS.