Graduate Immigration Route

Today (4 March 2021), the UK Government has confirmed that the Graduate route will open for applications on 1 July 2021. This will allow the UK to retain the brightest and the best international students to contribute to society and the economy post-study.

  • The Graduate route will be available to international students who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance, and who have valid Tier 4 or Student permission at the time of application.
  • Successful applicants on this route at bachelor’s or master’s level will be able to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, at any skill level for two years. Doctoral students will be able to stay for three years.
  • Graduates will be able to apply to the Skilled Worker route from within the UK, once they have found a suitable job.
  • Due to COVID-19, we have also put in place concessions for students unable to travel to the UK due to the pandemic, recognizing the continued disruption many face in international travel. Applicants who began their studies in autumn 2020 have until 21 June 2021 to enter the UK with permission as a Student (updated from the previous date of 6 April 2021) in order to be eligible to apply to the Graduate route. Students who began their studies in January or February 2021 will need to be in the UK by 27 September 2021.
  • The launch of the route demonstrates the Government’s support for our education sector, and commitment to the International Education Strategy, which sets out an ambition to increase education exports to £35 billion and the number of international higher education students in the UK to 600,000 by 2030.
  • Individuals who already have permission as a dependent of a Student who is applying on this route can also apply to extend their permission as a dependent – however new dependants are not permitted on this route.
  • The route does not count towards settlement – however Graduates will be able to apply to other routes at the end of their 2-3 year stay, for example the Skilled Worker, Global Talent or Innovator routes.
  • Those who graduate and whose Tier 4 or Student visa leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible, however, most of these students will have had no expectation of benefitting from such a route when they applied to study in the UK. They will also be able to apply to a number of other routes, for example Skilled Worker, Start Up, Innovator or Global Talent, among others.

The Graduate route will require a new visa application, which will only be possible from inside the UK. It will include the payment of a visa fee of £700 and the Immigration Health Surcharge at the full rate of £624 per year. Students will also need to know the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) they used for their most recent Student (or Tier 4) application in order to apply for the Graduate route.

Individuals applying to the Graduate route will not need a sponsor. Student sponsors will not need to fulfil any sponsorship duties for their students once they switch onto the Graduate route and students will not need a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to apply under this route. However, students sponsors will need to notify the Home Office that a student has successfully completed their course.

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