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KPMG has revoked job offers to some foreign graduates in the UK after the government tightened visa rules for overseas workers in an effort to cut record immigration.

The Big Four firm, one of the UK’s biggest graduate employers, told affected incoming staff this week that their offers had been rescinded, pinning the move on the government’s decision to raise the minimum salary required to sponsor a skilled worker visa in the UK, according to documents seen by the Financial Times.

KPMG said the changes to eligibility criteria had “unfortunately impacted some of our graduate programmes that were previously eligible for sponsorship under the skilled worker visa category”, according to the documents. The firm declined to comment on how many offers had been revoked.

The decision highlights how Britain’s professional services industry is grappling with tighter rules concerning the hiring of overseas workers. It comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration takes an increasingly hardline approach to immigration in the run-up to the general election, which his Conservative party is expected to lose.

The government announced in January that it would increase the salary threshold for skilled workers from £26,200 to £38,700 from April, and to £30,960 for people under the age of 26.

Depending on region and business line, the Big Four — Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC — typically pay first-year graduates between £25,000 and £35,000 in the UK, meaning they are directly affected by the new visa rules.

With the exception of junior actuaries, KPMG has stopped hiring overseas graduates who need skilled worker visas outside of London as a result of the changes to the eligibility rules.

Graduates who had their offers revoked were told they would not be able to defer their places to 2025. They could request to transfer to a different graduate programme this year, but only if applications were still open on the firm’s website and if “the role is eligible for sponsorship”.

KPMG, which hired 1,400 graduates and apprentices last year, will fill the now-vacant graduate places with people who are entitled to work in the UK, according to one person familiar with the matter.

Tom Pursglove, minister for legal migration, said in January that the immigration changes, which also included new restrictions on care workers bringing dependants to the UK, would “tackle the inherent unfairness of a system which, if left untouched, would reward employers seeking to recruit cheap labour from overseas at the expense of the British worker”.

KPMG declined to comment.

Separately, the Big Four firm said it would start hiring more former prisoners following a two-year trial it described as “very positive”.

Additional reporting by Amy Borrett in London

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