What is the Graduate Immigration Route?
The government has announced that the Graduate Immigration Route will open for applications from 1 July 2021. International students in the UK who have completed an eligible course of study will be able to remain in the UK to work, or look for work, for two years, or three years for those being awarded doctorates after completing their studies.
The Graduate route will require a new visa application and can only be applied 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 visa or Tier 4 (General) Student Visa in order to apply for the Graduate route. There is no financial requirement for this route.
Unlike the Skilled Worker Route there are no salary requirements for this route, applicants on the Graduate Immigration Route will be permitted to work freely in the UK as they please.
The route does not count towards settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, however Graduates will be able to apply to other routes at the end of their 2 or 3 year stay, for example the Skilled Worker route.
Individuals who already have permission as a dependant of a Student who is applying on this route can also apply to extend their permission as a dependant – however new dependants are not permitted on this route.
What are the requirements of the Graduate Immigration Route?
To qualify for the Graduate Immigration Route, you will need to demonstrate that you:
- Have valid Tier 4 or Student permission at the time of your application;
- Are applying from within the UK;
- Have spent a minimum period of time studying in the UK;
- Successfully completed a UK degree, or other eligible course;
- Completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance;
- You have not previously held permission on the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES), or the Graduate route;
- You do not fall for refusal on grounds of suitability.
The minimum UK study period will depend on the length of the course. If you have completed a course lasting 12 months or less, you will need to have studied the whole course in the UK. If your course lasted more than 12 months, you will need to have been granted permission for at least 12 months on the Student route and have spent that time studying in the UK. Either way, the University must have notified UKVI that you have successfully completed your course before you submit your visa application.
What if my student visa expires before 1 July 2021?
If your visa expires before 1 July 2021 you will not be eligible for the Graduate Immigration Route. You may qualify to switch into another immigration route, such as the Skilled Worker route, Start-up route, Innovator route or Global Talent route, among others.
The Graduate Immigration Route and COVID-19
The Home Office is putting in place concessions for international students who have been unable to travel to the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic. Where remote learning has taken place outside of the UK as a result of COVID, the following concessions will apply:
- If you began your studies in autumn 2020, you will be eligible to switch into the Graduate Immigration Route if you enter the UK by 21 June 2021;
- If you began your studies in January or February 2021, you will be eligible to switch into the Graduate Immigration Route if you enter the UK by 27 September 2021.