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Nine things we’ve learnt about the Graduate Immigration Route

The Graduate immigration route will open for applications on 1 July 2021.

This route is for international students who have successfully completed their studies in the UK at bachelor’s degree level or above and wish to stay for an additional period of time. Graduates will be permitted to work full time and undertake self-employed work. They will not need a sponsor or a job offer to apply.

This was announced in September 2020 as a re-introduction of the Post-Study Work visa. Some of the features were known from the start but there was still much speculation on how the details will pan out. The Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules published on 4 March provides the full details. And here are nine things we’ve learnt about the Graduate Immigration Route both from the Statement of Changes and related government announcements:

1. The route is not linked to the date of graduation but rather the expiry date of the visa. If you graduated in 2021 and have your Student or Tier 4 visa valid on 1 July 2021 you are eligible to apply. The application has to be made from the UK. The University has to notify the Home Office of your successful completion of the course prior to you submitting the application, otherwise the application would be deemed invalid.

2. In addition to degree level students, the route will be open to students who successfully complete one of the following courses:

(a) a law conversion course validated by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales; or

(b) the Legal Practice Course in England and Wales, the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland; or

(c) the Bar Practice Course in England and Wales, or the Bar Course in Northern Ireland; or

(d) a foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry; or

(e) a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE); or

(f) 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.

3. Students graduating this summer who are studying remotely due to COVID, have to be back in the UK by 21 June 2021 (updated from 6 April 2021) in order to be eligible for the route.graduate visa will be available from 1 July 2021

4. Students who began their studies in January or February 2021 will have to be in the UK by 27 September 2021.

5. Doctorate Extension Scheme will be replaced by the Graduate route. PhD Graduates will be given leave to remain for three years. Other Graduates will be given extension of leave for two years. Those who already hold a Doctoral Extension Scheme visa will not be allowed to switch into the Graduate route.

6. Graduate route will only be available once. In other words, if you hold Graduate visa and then return to studies you will not be allowed to switch into the Graduate route second time.

7. As we knew previously, Graduates will have the option of switching into the Skilled Worker route. What we have not known is that the Skilled Worker route will be amended to extend the concessions for the “new entrants” to graduates switching into skilled worker route or applying for entry clearance as a skilled worker within two years of expiry of their leave to remain as a Graduate.

8. Dependent family members will be permitted on the Graduate route only if they had a previous permission to stay in the UK as dependents of the main applicant on the Student or Tier 4 route. An exception is made for children born in the UK to Students or Graduates.

9. The earliest you can apply is 1 July 2021.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave you comments below and we will get back to you at once.

Be successful on completion of studies!
Immigration and job search tips for international graduates

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10 Responses

  1. I want to also find out if I am able to secure a job at the skilled level before I apply for the visa, will my employ be liable to pay for immigration tax and charges for my sponsorship.

    1. No, not at all. You don’t need to be sponsored on the Graduate route. There is no salary threshold (other than national minimum wages) and your employer does not need a sponsor licence.

  2. Hi there, I am Eugene. I am masters student and I am studying investment and financial risk management. I am currently on industrial placement that will end on 18th September, do I have to finish with the placement before I can apply for the visa and I want to know if your firm can also help me secure a job in the finance industry.

  3. Hi there, my uni course ends in June but my visa technically expires in September/October of this year. Do you think it would be possible to travel home to the US for a trip in June before returning to the U.K. before 21 June? Or, will this erase my chances of being able to apply for the graduation route visa? Thanks

    1. Hi Sarah, here is the relevant extract from the immigration rules

      If you don’t feel confident about the answer then it may be worth booking a 15-minute consultation.

  4. Hi,

    I know that I do not fall under PSW as my visa is expiring on 1st June 2021. I came to UK in May 2019 on Tier 4 Visa. I have completed MSc International Business with Advanced Practice from University of Ulster, London. However, just want to know is their any other way for me like High Skilled Worker Route or something else.

    Please contact me so that we can discuss in detail my profile.

    1. Hi!

      I’m studying a Graduate Diploma in Photography at UAL and there has been no clear understanding on whether the students from this course will be eligible for this course. My university recently said that it won’t but they also sent a mail last year saying that it will be eligible. Was hoping to get some clarity from your side. Thanks.

      1. Really sorry to bring bad news, but unfortunately you won’t be entitled because photography is not a regulated profession. I understand that a degree is a pre-requisite for the course, but the second limb of the requirement is that it has to be a regulated profession – like law, medicine, architecture, accountancy, financial advice etc.

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