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College Sponsors Visas for International Students

College Sponsors Visas for International Students

April 2012

The College of Optometrists has today announced its intention to become a sponsor for migrant pre-registration trainee optometrists.

As a result of changes implemented by the UK Border Agency, non EEA international students studying optometry at universities in the UK will be unable to complete their pre-registration period once they have graduated. The changes, which will affect current final year international students, will demand that on graduation, an overseas student returns to their country rather than seeking employment in the UK. This means they would not be allowed to complete their studies and join the College's Scheme for Registration.

The College will be applying for a licence from the UK Border Agency to be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship under Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange).

Jackie Martin, Director of Education at the College comments, "In our discussions with UK universities, it became clear that an urgent solution was needed to mitigate the impact of recent changes to the UK Border Agency rules.  With the support of British Universities Committee of Optometry (BUCO), Universities UK and the Department of Health, we are pleased to be able to provide a solution.”

Jim Gilchrist, Chair of BUCO added, “Optometry education in the UK is highly regarded. Many international students graduate from UK optometry courses every year, and they are excellent ambassadors for the universities and the profession. BUCO has been working closely with the College on this issue in recent months and the decision of the College to take on this role to support students and protect the international position of UK optometric education is very welcome.”

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