Helena Sheizon
Poli Che
Helena Sheizon

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.

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