On 11 September 2019 the UK Government announced the creation of a new immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies.
For international students wishing to study in the UK, the new post-study work visa provides the opportunity to work in the UK after graduation.
The UK government wants to retain the brightest and the best students to continue to contribute to the UK post-study, which is why the Graduate route will be launched in the summer of 2021. This additional new route will allow those who have completed a degree at a UK Higher Education provider with a track record of compliance to stay in the UK for two years (three years for PhD graduates) and work at any skill level, and to switch into work routes if they find a suitable job.
Any student who successfully completes their degree-level course at a qualifying institution in the summer of 2021 or after will be eligible. This includes students who are already studying in the UK. Those whose Tier 4 leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible for it, however, most of these students will have had no expectation of benefitting from such a route when they applied to study in the UK.
It is important to note that the program is only open to students who completed undergraduate level or above from recognized UK universities.
While there has been some frustration about lack of detail about the new visa, the UK government has recently published updated guidance which confirmed that those studying by distance/blended learning as a result of changes forced on universities by Covid-19 will be eligible to apply for the Graduate route provided they are in the UK by 6 April 2021.
The graduate immigration route will require a new application, and it will include the payment of a visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
The Graduate Immigration Route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement. However, graduates who find an appropriate job and meet the requirements will be able to switch into skilled work, which is a route to settlement.