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GRADUATE VISA

GRADUATE VISA

The Graduate Immigration Route will allow international students who have completed an eligible UK degree to stay in the UK to work, or look for work, for two years (three years for those being awarded doctorates) after they have completed their studies.

The Graduate Immigration Route will not lead directly to settlement, but graduates on the route will be able switch into other work-based routes which can lead to settlement.  The Graduate Immigration Route will open for new applications from 1 July 2021.

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.

The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances.  You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.

To discuss your Graduate Immigration Route application with one of our immigration barristers, contact our Graduate Visa lawyers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

Eligible courses

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. 

Sponsorship 

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.

Dependants

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.

How our immigration barristers can help

Our immigration barristers regularly assist international students and graduates to move to, or extend their stay in, the UK in order to pursue their education and find graduate work opportunities.

Our barristers are experts in the immigration options for students and graduates and will guide you through the complex Home Office rules and policies.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to students as part of a professional and friendly service.

We can also assist with

  • Applications for Skilled Worker Visas

    The Skilled Worker Visa is open to individuals of all nationalities (except British and Irish) who have an offer of an eligible skilled job in the UK from a Home Office-approved sponsor.  The route can lead to settlement and applicants can be joined by dependent partners and children.

    In order to qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

    • You are aged 18 or over;
    • You have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job you are planning to do;
    • Your job offer is a genuine vacancy;
    • Your sponsor has paid any required Immigration Skills Charge;
    • Your job is at an appropriate skill level;
    • You are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0);
    • You will be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both a general salary threshold and the ‘going rate’ for the occupation;
    • You have enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds;
    • You have provided a criminal record certificate, if required; and
    • You have provided a valid TB certificate, if required.

    The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances.  You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.

  • Applications for UK Student Visas

    The Student Visa category is for individuals who are aged 16 or over and who wish to study on a further or higher education course in the UK.

    In order to qualify for a UK Student Visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

    • You are aged 16 or over;
    • You have been offered an unconditional place on an approved course with a licensed student sponsor;
    • You can read, write, speak and understand English to at least CEFR Level B2 (if studying at degree level or above) or CEFR Level B1 (if studying at below degree level);
    • You have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course without relying on public funds;
    • You have the consent of your parents if you are 16 or 17 years old;

    The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances.  You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.

  • Applications for Short-term Student Visas (English Language)

    The Short-term Student Visa (English Language) is a route for persons aged 16 and over who want to study an English language course in the UK for between 6 and 11 months without a student sponsor but at an accredited institution.

    In order to qualify for a Short-term Student Visa (English Language) you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

    • You are aged 16 or over;
    • You are outside the UK;
    • You have been accepted onto an English language course (that does not include any other subject) at an accredited institution that will last no longer than 11 months;
    • You have paid your course fees or have enough funds to pay your course fees;
    • You do not intend to undertake a course of study of longer than 11 months, study at an academy or state-funded school, make the UK your main home, work in the UK or engage in any business or professional activities in the UK;
    • You intend to leave the UK within 30 days of the end of your English language course, or at the end of 11 months, whichever is sooner;
    • You can maintain and accommodate yourself adequately without receiving public funds;
    • You have enough funds to meet the cost of your return or onward journey from the UK;
    • You have the consent of your parents if you are 16 or 17 years old.

    The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances.  You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.

  • Fresh applications, Administrative reviews and Judicial reviews for Graduates

    If your application for permission to stay on the Graduate Immigration Route has been refused, our immigration barristers can advise on the merits of making a fresh application or challenging the decision.

    If the decision-maker failed to apply the Immigration Rules or Home Office policy correctly, we can bring Administrative Review proceedings to challenge the decision.

    If the decision to refuse your application was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally improper, our immigration barristers can apply for Judicial Review and provide representation at Judicial Review hearings.

WHAT CAN WE HELP YOU WITH?

To discuss your Graduate Immigration Route application with one of our immigration barristers, contact our Graduate Visa team on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form.

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