Reminder: Graduate route
opens 1 July

On 1 July 2021, the UK will open its new Graduate route, a post-study immigration route for international students who wish to work in the UK following the successful completion of a course of study at bachelor’s degree level or above.

This visa category has been developed to help make the UK a more attractive destination for international students, and to help retain the ‘brightest and best’ talent so they can continue to contribute to society and the economy post-study.

In preparation for the opening, below is a recap of the route, who is eligible, and how to apply.

Overview of the Graduate route

Under the new route, successful applicants will be granted permission to stay in the UK and work, or look for work at any skill level after completing their studies. Undergraduates and master’s degree students will be granted two years’ leave, whilst PhD students will be allowed to stay for three years.

The period granted is a one-time, non-extendable leave period, and the route does not lead to settlement. However, if a Graduate visa holder finds suitable employment during this time, they will be able to switch to a Skilled Worker visa providing they meet the requirements of the route.

The route is unsponsored, meaning applicants do not need to hold a job offer in order to apply. There are also no minimum salary requirements and no cap on how many people can apply.

Eligibility requirements

In order to be eligible, applicants must:

  • Have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a UK Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance
  • Have completed the entirety of their degree in the UK, except for permitted study abroad programmes or when remote learning has been required due to COVID-19
  • Have valid and extant leave as a student at the point of application
  • Pay the application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge
  • Pass all security, identity and criminality checks

Those who graduate and whose Tier 4 or Student visa leave expires before the route opens on 1 July 2021 will not be eligible to apply.

How to apply

In keeping with the Home Office’s long-term plan to implement a fully digital immigration system, the Graduate route will be delivered through a fully online application process.

Applications to the Graduate route must be made from within in the UK. Those who have been distance learning overseas due to COVID-19 must return to the UK with permission as a Student in order to apply.

Applicants of all nationalities will be able to apply online and prove their identity using the ChipChecker process with their Biometric Residence Permit and by uploading a photo. This means the applicant will not need to attend a UK Visa Application Centre to give their biometrics. The Home Office will re-use fingerprint biometrics already captured through the Student route application process to undertake the required checks.

Before you apply, your Student sponsor must confirm that you have successfully completed your qualifying course. However, there will be no ongoing sponsorship requirement and applicants will not need to meet further maintenance or English language requirements.

The application fee for the Graduate route is £700.

Post-study visa advice

If you are an international student currently studying for a degree in the UK and need advice on the new graduate route and post-study work options, Smith Stone Walters can help.

Our team of immigration consultants can advise you on the visa options available to you once you graduate, and assist you with filing your visa application. Contact us today for an informal discussion about your options.

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