The UK government has announced new post-study work visas for international students. The new Graduate Route will be available to anyone completing a UK degree from the summer of 2021. It will allow you to stay in the UK for up to two years after you graduate, with no restriction on the type of work you can do.
- What is the Graduate Route
The Graduate Route is a new UK post-study work visa to be introduced for international students graduating in summer 2021 or later. It will allow you to live and work in the UK for up to two years after a master's, or three years after a PhD/DrPH.
- Who will be eligible for a Graduate Route visa?
The Graduate Route is intended to be available to anyone who holds a Tier 4, Student visa and graduates from the summer of 2021 or after.
- Will my university need to sponsor my application?
No. You will not need any sponsorship to apply for the Graduate Route.
- Will there be any restriction on the work I will be able to do with a Graduate Route Visa?
There will be no minimum salary level for the Graduate Route. You can seek advanced roles related to your degree, or develop your CV and experience in other positions.
- What will happen if I don't find a job after my degree?
You don't need to be in work to qualify for the Graduate Route and periods of unemployment won't have any impact on the length of your post-study work visa.
- What will happen when my Graduate Route Visa expires?
At the end of the two-year period you will need to leave the UK or apply for a different visa, such as a Tier 2 General work visa. The Tier 2 visa does require you to have an employment offer with a minimum skill and salary level, but your time on the Graduate Route should make it much easier to work towards this.
- How to do I apply for the Graduate Route Visa?
The UKVI are yet to finalise details, for now we understand that you must apply inside the UK and before your Tier 4, Student Visa expires. You will need to complete identity, criminality and security checks as well as pay an application fee and an Immigration Health Surcharge payment.
This page will be update with further details as soon as they are confirmed.
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 on a concessionary basis if they spent some time studying outside the UK.
Students will benefit from this concession if they enter the UK before 6 April 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK.
Such students will still need to have extant permission as a Student when the new route launches in 2021 and meet other eligibility criteria to be eligible for the route.
- I am studying part of my course digitally, will I still be eligible for the Graduate Route?
Despite the pandemic the Graduate Route remains on course to be introduced from summer 2021. You may still be eligible if you are forced to complete part of your degree via distance learning, provided you arrive in the UK before 6 April 2021 to complete a term of study through face-to-face learning.
- Will I need to apply again if I already have a Tier 4 / Student Visa?
Yes. You will need to apply for a separate Graduate Route visa before your Tier 4 / Student visa expires.
- Will there be a fee for the Graduate Route visa?
Yes. You will need to pay a separate visa fee to access the Graduate Route. You will also need to pay another Immigration Health Surcharge to cover each additional year you spend in the UK.
- What will the application deadline be?
You will need to apply to the Graduate Route before your Tier 4 / Student Visa expires.
- Will the Graduate Route replace the doctorate extension scheme for students?
Yes, the Graduate Route will replace the Doctorate Extension Scheme for PhD students who graduate from summer 2021. This is good news for PhD/DrPH visas as the new option provides a much more generous post-study work period (three years rather than one) and a simpler application process.
- What will this mean for EU students?
The Graduate Route will be available to students on Student Visa. EU and EEA students arriving in the UK to study from 01 January 2021 or after will require a visa. The Graduate Route will be available to EU and EEA students as well as other international students on a Tier 4 / Student Visa.