Graduate visa route
1 July 2021
Applications to the UK’s new Graduate visa route formally open today, 1 July 2021.
The Graduate route forms part of the UK’s new points-based immigration system, and will allow successful applicants to stay in the UK for up to three years after completing their studies and either work or look for work at any skill level.
This new post-study immigration route has been designed to improve the UK’s appeal as a top study destination for international students, and will allow the UK to retain the ‘brightest and best’ talent from overseas to contribute to society and the economy after completing their studies. The scheme is set to help the government achieve its aim of increasing the number of international students in higher education in the UK to 600,000 by 2030.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Our world leading universities welcome thousands of international students every year. As we build back better, it is vital that the UK continues to be a beacon for talented young people across the globe who want to make a difference. The new Graduate route does just that, giving the best and brightest graduates the opportunity to continue contributing to the UK’s prosperity and the freedom to kickstart their careers in the UK.”
Who is eligible?
The Graduate visa route is open to international students who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance. You must also hold a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time you submit your application.
Applicants must have completed the entirety of their course in the UK, apart from permitted study abroad programmes and where remote learning has been necessary due to COVID-19.
You will not be required to show maintenance funds or finance, and you will not need to prove your English language ability as part of your application, as this has already been evidenced by successfully completing a degree at a UK university.
What does the Graduate visa route offer?
Under the Graduate 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.
How to apply for a Graduate visa
Applications to the Graduate visa route must be submitted from within the UK. Applicants who began their studies in autumn 2020 or in spring 2021 will need to be in the UK with permission as a student by 27 September 2021. Students beginning their course this autumn or early next year will need to be in the UK by 6 April 2022.
In most cases the application process will be completed entirely online, and successful applicants will be issued with a digital visa. Applications can be submitted via the gov.uk website, where you will need to create a UK Visas and Immigration account and then verify your identity using the ‘UK Immigration ID Check’ mobile app.Those unable to use the app will need to visit a UK Visas and Citizenship Application Services centre (UKVCAS) to complete the application process.
The cost to apply for a graduate visa is £700 (for both two and three-year applications). You will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) when you apply, which is currently £624 per year. Any accompanying dependants will also need to pay the same application fee as well as the IHS.
After you have applied
Once you have submitted your application for a Graduate visa, you must not leave the UK or Common Travel Area whilst you are waiting for a decision, as this may affect your eligibility for the route and could result in you being refused re-entry to the UK. If your visa expires after you have applied to the Graduate route, you will be permitted to remain in the UK whilst your application is being considered.
If your application is successful, you will be able to view your immigration status digitally and access your eVisa using the Home Office’s View and Prove service.
During the validity period of your Graduate visa, you are permitted to take up extra study, as long as this is not with a student sponsor on a course which with meet the requirements of a Student visa. If you find suitable employment you will be able to switch to the Skilled Worker route, providing you meet the requirements.
Help with applying for a Graduate visa
If you are nearing the end of your studies and wish to apply for a Graduate visa, Smith Stone Walters can help.
To speak to an immigration consultant, please contact us today.