File image: The Graduate Immigration Route visa will allow international students to stay in the UK for two to three years after completing their studies.
File image: The Graduate Immigration Route visa will allow international students to stay in the UK for two to three years after completing their studies.

What you need to know about new UK Graduate Immigration Route opening from July 2021

By Travel Reporter Time of article published May 7, 2021

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A new post-study work visa will open for applications on July 1, 2021, the UK government confirmed recently.

The Graduate Route visa will allow international students to stay in the UK for two to three years after completing their studies.

This also means that they get to travel within the country.

John Dunn, director of citizenship and immigration at Sable International, said international students must have a track record of compliance with the government’s immigration requirements to apply.

"Students on the post-study work visa will be able to work or look for work after their studies. In short, the new changes are very positive for students looking to stay on in the UK after studying.

“In the recent past, South Africans that did want to stay on in the UK would have had to have had a company offer them a job and sponsor them on a work permit.

“This is not always that easy as a fresh graduate with little work experience, so it is a welcomed change," he said.

How does the new visa legislation work?

The route will be available to international students who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance, and who have valid Student visa permission at the time of application.

Dunn said successful applicants at bachelor’s or master’s level will be able to stay in the UK and work or look for work at any skill level for two years. Doctoral students will be able to stay for three years.

Applicants are required to pay separate fees for the Graduate visa and apply before their student visa expires. The exact fee will be set in due course.

Applicants do not need to be employed or face any restriction on the kind of work they do if they stay on the Graduate Route.

There will also be no minimum salary requirements nor caps on numbers. Applicants can spend as long as they like looking for work and can leave or switch jobs without any effect on their visa.

Graduates will be able to apply to the Skilled Worker route from within the UK once they have found a suitable job.

"Due to Covid-19, concessions have also been put in place for students who are unable to travel to the UK due to the pandemic, recognising the continued disruption many face in international travel.

“Applicants who began their studies in autumn 2020 have until June 21, 2021 to enter the UK with permission as a Student (updated from the previous date of April 6, 2021) in order to be eligible to apply to the Graduate route.

“Students who began their studies in January or February 2021 will need to be in the UK by September 27, 2021," said Dunn.

He said if an applicant does a two-year master’s course in January 2021, they will need to arrive in the UK by September 27, 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK to be eligible to apply for the Graduate route.

Graduates will be able to apply to other routes at the end of their two- to three-year stay, which includes the Skilled Worker route.

Those who graduate and whose Student visa leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible.

Graduates on the route will be able to have flexible working hours, switch jobs as they please and develop their careers as required.

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