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On 1st July 2021 the Home Office have launched its new post study work visa route for international students.  It is a graduate route which is designed for international graduates who have been awarded their degree from a recognised UK university to stay on and look for work for at least two years. This scheme offers overseas students an option to apply for the right to stay on to gain work experience at the end of the university course. It is an unsponsored route, which means applicants do not need a job offer to apply and crucially they can use the two year period to stay on and look for a job. There are no minimum salary requirements, allowing graduates on the route to work flexibly, switch jobs or develop their own career as they see fit. 

It is our opinion that this new route is part of the post Brexit points based immigration system which is part of the UK drive to attract the best talent from around the world and to cover all of the parts of the United Kingdom.  Given that employability is a priority for international students coming to study in the UK, this is a welcome introduction because it will enable students to, enhance their skills (including self-employment), without the need for employer sponsorship.  

Who is eligible to apply?

The graduate route is available to international students who completed their degree at under-graduate or above, at a higher education approved provider and who have a valid Tier 4 student visa at the time of the application.  

What is the cost of the application for the graduate route?

The cost to apply to the graduate route is £700 and you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your application which currently is £624 per year.  

When can I apply for the graduate route?

You should apply once your university has sent you your final course results but you do not have to wait for graduation.  You must be in the UK when you apply and you should not leave the UK until you have received the decision on your application.

How do I apply for the graduate route ?

You will need to make an application on line and you will be issued with an E-Visa. You will need to start an application on Gov.UK in order to create a UK visa and immigration account and use the UK Immigration ID check App to verify your identity.  For that you will need your biometric residence card.  Government Departments and public authorities will be able to access your immigration status information in order to provide you with services, such as NHS. 

What are the conditions of the graduate route status?

You will be allowed to take extra study but not with a student sponsor on a course which would meet the requirement of a student visa and you cannot study at a state school.  You are not allowed to bring new dependents but dependents who are already in the UK, for example your dependents whilst you were a student, can apply with you as dependents of a graduate under the scheme.  Please note the graduate route does not count towards settlement, but you can switch in country to various work routes from this route. 

How can I switch to the skilled workers route?

From the graduate route you can switch to the skilled worker route if you have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor at the required skill level and you will get paid the relevant minimum salary threshold by your sponsor. You also need to speak English at the international level at B1 and you can also switch into the global talent and innovator route. 

What is the period of the grant?

You will be granted a period of permission dependent on the qualification requirements. If you have obtained a PhD you will be granted three years from the date of the decision. For all other qualifications you will be granted two years.  

What can’t I do under the graduate scheme route?

You cannot have access to public funds and you cannot study at particular institutions and you cannot work as a professional sports person.  If you have been awarded a scholarship or a sponsorship by a Government or international scholarship agency 12 months before the date of the application and that sponsorship covers both your fees and living costs to study in the UK, you must obtain the written consent for the application from that Government or agency.

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