The government will today reveal new plans allowing international students to stay in the UK for two years after they finish their course.
The initiative let graduates work, or look for work, at any skill level.
Business groups have been calling for the move as part of a more liberal migration policy. Post-study visas were scrapped in 2012 when Theresa May was home secretary.
However, ministers are now keen to hold on to students, especially those who have studied a so-called stem subject – science, technology, engineering and maths. Half of stem post-graduate students in British universities come from abroad.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes the initiative will help fuel scientific discoveries in Britain. He promised to go “even further” than the discovery of DNA by an international team at Cambridge 60 years ago.
“Breakthroughs of this kind wouldn’t be possible without being open to the brightest and the best from across the globe to study and work in the UK,” he said.
There is no cap on how many can apply to stay under the new scheme.
The SNP described the move as a “screeching Tory U-turn”.
Home secretary Sajid Javid tweeted in response to the policy: “About time. Should have reversed this silly policy years ago. Britain should always be open to the best talent from across the world.”
The policy is announced a month after Johnson said he would relax visa rules for international scientists.
It comes as the UK kicks off the largest genetics project in the world. The £200m push will sequence the genome of all 500,000 volunteers in the UK’s Biobank.
Researchers will try to understand why some people are more prone to diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
“This project will help unlock new treatments and grow our understanding of how genetics effects our risk of disease,” said health secretary Matt Hancock.
“In an ageing society with an increasing burden of chronic diseases, it is vital that we diagnose earlier, personalise treatment and where possible prevent diseases from occurring altogether.”