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New Graduate Visa route for international students announced by Home Office

Today the Government announced plans for a new Graduate Visa which will enable international students to work in the UK for two years following their graduation, a significant increase from the current permitted duration of four months. The decision to introduce a Graduate Visa has been welcomed by numerous politicians and universities, and will no doubt be welcomed by students too. 

Why has a Graduate Visa been announced?

The Government has announced that the new Graduate Visa is designed to attract and retain the ‘brightest and best talent’ to the UK.  The news has come hand-in-hand with the launch of a new project in the fight against life-threatening illnesses, UK Biobank. 

The Government states that international students make up half of all full-time postgraduate students in the science, technology and maths subjects. Therefore, the Government expects that the opening of this new Graduate Visa route will contribute to breakthroughs in the science, technology, maths and engineering sectors and in addition to other world-leading work. 

Graduate Visa Requirements

It is not yet clear what the specific requirements of the Graduate Visa route will be, as no new Immigration Rules or Guidance have been released. This is somewhat surprising given that a new Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules was published on 9 September 2019.

From the information published to date, it is thought that the new Graduate Visa will be open to those who start courses at undergraduate level or above from the next academic year onwards. It is not yet clear whether the Graduate Visa will also be open to students who have already enrolled on their courses. Students will have to have studied at a trusted UK university or higher education provider with a track record of upholding immigration checks and obligations. 

Without any published Immigration Rules or Guidance, it is difficult to speculate on what further requirements students will have to meet in order to qualify for a Graduate Visa.  Further information will be published on our site once we know more.

Echoes of the Post-Study Work visa?

Of course, those familiar with immigration law may recall the old Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) visa.

The Post-Study Work visa enabled students to work in the UK for a period of two years following their graduation, without requiring sponsorship from an employer. The category’s aim was to retain the most able students and to provide a bridge to highly-skilled or skilled work, which is clearly similar to the aim announced by the Government today.

This route was closed on 6 April 2012 with the introduction of the ‘hostile environment’ by the then Home Secretary, Theresa May. International students are now only given four months following their graduation to find jobs if they have been studying on a course lasting 12 months or more.

Under the new proposals for a Graduate Visa, students will have two years from graduation to find work. There will be no restriction on the types of jobs graduates can undertake, and there will be no cap on the numbers of students who can utilise this change. This does seem to reflect the old Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) visa, however as outlined above it is difficult to compare in any detail at this stage, without the specific requirements set out in the Immigration Rules.  Only time will tell.

Contact our Graduate Visa Immigration Lawyers

For expert advice and assistance in relation to the Graduate Visa or any student immigration matter, contact our immigration barristers and lawyers in London on 0203 617 9173 or complete the enquiry form below.


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