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12 March 2021

New Graduate route will come into force on 1 July 2021

3 mins

In a move that the UK Government says represents its support of the UK education sector, and commitment to the International Education Strategy, the launch date for the new Graduate route has been confirmed as 1 July 2021.

This route will allow international students who have chosen the UK for their higher education to apply to stay in the UK to start their working life.

Am I eligible for the Graduate route?

Unlike the Skilled Worker route, there will be no requirement to have a sponsor. Nor will the work have to meet a skills level or minimum salary requirement. In order to be eligible for the Graduate route, you must:

  • be in the UK;
  • have valid leave under Tier 4 or Appendix Student of the Immigration Rules;
  • have completed a degree at undergraduate level or higher at a Higher Education Provider with a proven track record of compliance. Your student sponsor must have notified the Home Office that you have successfully completed your course of study by the time you apply under the Graduate route;
  • have studied in the UK for a minimum period of the course for which you were last granted permission as a student. If the total duration of the course was 12 months or less, you must have studied in the UK for the full duration of the course. If the total length of the course was longer than 12 months, you must have studied in the UK for at least 12 months.

My studies have been affected due to the coronavirus- how will this impact on my eligibility for the Graduate route?

The government has confirmed that there will be a Coronavirus concession for those students who have been unable to travel to the UK due to the pandemic. This means that where distance learning took place overseas between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021, you will not be prevented from meeting the requirement of a minimum time studying in the UK if:

  • you began your course in 2020 and entered the UK on or before 21 June 2021 and completed the course of study in the UK with permission as student; or
  • you began your course your course in 2021 and entered the UK before 27 September 2021, and completed your course of study in the UK with permission as a student.

If you have been distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021, as part of a course of study lasting longer than 12 months whilst you held permission as a student, you will not be prevented from meeting the requirement to spend the relevant period in the UK as detailed above.

What does the Graduate route provide?

A successful application in this route will lead to a grant of two years’ leave to remain if you have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Whilst those who have completed doctoral studies, will be granted three years’ leave to remain. Although it will not be possible to extend your permission to stay in the UK under this route, you will be able to apply for further leave under a different route, for example under the Skilled Worker, Global Talent or Innovator routes, subject to meeting the requirements of the relevant immigration rules.

When the government closed the previous post study work route it was a bitter blow for many students and a short sighted move. The new route will be very welcome news for those who complete their higher education in the UK and wish to take their first steps in their careers here. 

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