Graduate Immigration Route To Open 1 July 2021
The government has announced that the Graduate Immigration Route will open for applications from 1 July 2021. The route will enable international students who have completed an eligible course of study to remain in the UK to work, or look for work, for two years (three years for those being awarded doctorates) after completing their studies. In this post we look at what international graduates can expect once the Graduate Immigration Route opens.
Requirements of the Graduate Immigration Route
In order to qualify for permission to stay on the Graduate Immigration Route you will need to satisfy UK Visas & Immigration that:
- You have successfully completed a UK degree, or other eligible course;
- You have studied at a Higher Education Provider which is a student sponsor with a track record of compliance;
- You have spent a minimum period of time studying in the UK;
- You are applying from within the UK and have valid leave as a Student or Tier 4 Student at the date of application;
- 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.
In order to extend your stay on the Graduate Immigration Route you will need to have successfully completed a degree at UK bachelor’s or postgraduate level, or a professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above, in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public authority.
You will also be eligible to apply under the Graduate Immigration Route if you have been sponsored to undertake a role as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer following the completion of an eligible qualification in your most recent grant of permission to study.
Minimum study period in the UK
Your studies on an eligible course will need to have involved a minimum period of time spent studying in the UK. 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.
The Graduate Immigration Route will be an unsponsored route, meaning that applicants will not need a job offer or a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) in order to be eligible.
Job-Seeking and Employment
Graduates on the Graduate Immigration Route will be permitted to look for work and, once employment has been found, work flexibly. They will be able to undertake roles at any skill level and will not need to satisfy any minimum salary requirement. Successful applicants will also be able to switch jobs.
Duration of stay in the UK on the Graduate Immigration Route
Successful applicants on the Graduate Immigration Route who have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree will be able to stay in the UK for two years. Doctoral students will be able to stay in the UK for three years.
Extensions of Stay on the Graduate Immigration Route
It will not be possible to extend permission to stay on the Graduate Immigration Route.
Settlement on the Graduate Immigration Route
The Graduate Immigration Route will not lead directly to settlement. However, once on the Graduate Immigration Route you will be able to extend your stay by switching into other work-based routes, such as the Skilled Worker route, the Global Talent route and the Innovator route, all of which can lead to settlement. Applicants will of course need to satisfy the requirements of the route.
If you have family members in the UK who already have permission to stay in the UK as your dependent then they will be able to extend their stay when you apply to enter the Graduate Immigration Route.
New dependents will not be permitted on this route, except where a dependent child is born in the UK during a period of Student or Graduate leave.
COVID-19 and the Graduate Immigration Route
Although it is not possible to apply for a Graduate Visa from outside the UK, 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 distance learning has taken place outside of the UK as a result of Covid-19, 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.
Graduates whose Tier 4 or Student leave expires before 1 July 2021
International students who have graduated with a degree from a UK higher education institution and whose Tier 4 (General) Student leave or Student leave expires before 1 July 2021 will not be eligible for the Graduate Immigration Route. However, if you fall into this category 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.
Contact Our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance regarding an application to extend your stay on the Graduate Immigration Route, or to switch into another immigration category, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.