The new ‘Graduate Route’ will open a door to new work opportunities for international students who have invested in a UK education. It also allows the UK to retain bright and ambitious graduates who can contribute to the economy, without initially imposing stringent criteria on UK businesses.
On 1st July 2021, the route will open to international students who wish to remain in the UK after their studies. There will be no need for qualifying graduates to have secured a job to extend their stay in the UK. However, depending on their level of study, successful applicants will be given permission, for up to 2 or 3 years, to work or look for work in the UK.
Under this new route, graduates will not require sponsorship from a UK employer and switching between jobs will be permitted without Home Office approval. Employers are not restricted to offering work in roles of a particular skill level. Nor will there be any minimum salary thresholds for UK businesses seeking to employ graduates who are in the UK on this route.
Who can apply for the Graduate Route visa?
International students seeking to remain in the UK post-study who meet ALL of the following:
- Hold a valid Tier 4/student visa expiring on or after 1st July 2021.
- Have successfully completed an eligible course.
- Studied at a UK higher education provider with a track record of compliance.
- Remain in the UK.
Those who qualify won’t be granted an automatic extension; a formal immigration application must be made. This has a fee of £700.00 plus £19.20 for biometric enrolment. The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will also be payable at £624.00 per year.
FAQs on Graduate Route visa
Can I apply for the Graduate Route if I started my studies remotely but have not entered the UK because of Coronavirus?
Yes. If your course is 12 months or less and you began your studies in 2020 but haven’t yet entered the UK, you must enter on a student visa by 21st June 2021 to be eligible for the Graduate Route.
If you are on a course of 12 months or less that started in 2021 and haven’t yet entered the UK, you must do so on a student visa by 27th September 2021.
If you are on a course of 12 months or less that started in either 2020 or 2021 and you have previously travelled to the UK on a student visa issued for this course of study but you are now overseas studying remotely, you will need to return to the UK before the course end date.
If you are on a course that is longer than 12 months, you will be eligible for the Graduate Route, despite any distance learning which took place between 24th January 2020 and 27th September 2021. You must however be in the UK to apply.
Will I be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain after completing a 3-year degree on a student visa followed by 2 years on the Graduate Route?
No. The Graduate Route will not lead to settlement. It can however act as a stepping-stone into other immigration categories which may allow you to settle in the UK.
For example, if by the end of your stay on the Graduate Route you have completed 10 continuous years of lawful residence in the UK, you may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain. If you think this applies to you, we would be happy to consider your immigration background and advise on your eligibility for settlement.
Can I start a business in the UK whilst I have status under the Graduate Route?
Yes. The Graduate Route is far less restrictive than other immigration categories but remember that the time spent on this route will not lead to settlement.
Can my dependant family members remain in the UK with me if I switch into the Graduate Route?
Dependant partners and children who are already in the UK as your dependants will also be eligible to apply as your dependants under the Graduate Route. Children born in the UK during your most recent student visa will also be eligible. However, other new dependants will not be able to apply.
My current student visa expires in June 2021. Will I be eligible for the Graduate Route?
No. This route will not open until 1st July 2021 so if your visa expires before you will not be eligible to apply. Other immigration routes may be available to remain in the UK so please get in touch to discuss your options.
Should you require advice on the Graduate Route or alternative immigration options, please contact our immigration specialists on 020 7205 2115 or complete our contact form to request a call back.
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