The UK Government announced in September 2019 that a new graduate immigration route will be available to international students who complete a degree in the UK from summer 2021.
Graduates that apply for and are granted a visa under this new route will be able to work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for up to 2 years, or 3 years if you are a PhD graduate.
Post Study Work
Currently the UK Government have not published official eligibility guidance. However, they have announced the following information:
- The Graduate Route will be launched on the 1st July 2021.
- The route is for students that hold a valid Tier 4 or Student route visa who will successfully complete a degree in or after the summer of 2021.
- It will only be possible to apply for a Graduate Route visa from within the UK.
- Study must be undertaken in the UK, but there are concessions for people who have been distance learning outside the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic. See below Graduate Route and Covid-19 Concessions.
- Undergraduate and master's degree students will be able to apply to stay for two years.
- PhD students will be able to apply to stay for three years.
- It will not be possible to extend this type of immigration permission but it will be possible to switch into another visa category such as a work visa if you meet the route requirements.
- There will not be a requirement to show you have a certain amount of money (known as the 'maintenance requirement').
- There will be an application fee of approximately £700 and you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) at cost of approximately £624 per year of the visa.
- It is expected students that hold a Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) visa will not be eligible to apply under this new route.
Please note: Comprehensive eligibility requirements will not be available until official guidance is published by the UK Government.
Graduate Route and Covid-19 Concessions
Students will normally be expected to undertake their studies in the UK to be eligible for the Graduate route. However, if students are required to either continue their current studies or commence a new course by distance or blended learning due to Covid-19, they will still be eligible to switch into the Graduate route if they meet the requirements of the route.
Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 via distance learning, and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course will be able to make a Graduate application if they make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK on or before 21 June 2021 to complete their course.
Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2021 via distance learning and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course will be able to make a Graduate application if they make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK on or before 27 September 2021 to complete their course.
Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 who have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and who have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to make a Graduate application as long as they are present in the UK before the end date of their course.
Students who would normally only hold a visa to study in the UK on the Student route for the last year of a longer course, such as those on articulated degree programmes, will be considered as being on a course of 12 months or less for the purpose of this requirement.
Students who hold a Student or Tier Visa for a course lasting longer than 12 months will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate route as a result of any distance learning that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021.
Further information about the new visa route can be found on the Home Office website.
Please also see UKCISA’s website for further information on what we currently know about the Graduate Route.