UK Visa Update: UK Post Study Work Option – New Graduate Route

UK Visa Update: UK Post Study Work Option – New Graduate Route

From 2021, the new UK points-based system for immigration will be implemented to all foreigners, including Europeans not covered under the EU Settlement Scheme. As part of the UK's revamp of immigration rules, the new Graduate Route will be available in summer 2021.

International students who have successfully completed an undergraduate or master’s degree will be able to stay and work or look for work for up to two years. Meanwhile, students who complete their PhD will be able to stay for three years.

While the full details of the new Graduate Route are still pending, here are the things you need to know.

New Graduate Route Eligibility

The Graduate Route is intended to be available to anyone graduating from a UK degree who holds a Tier 4 visa when the system is available. The new Graduate Route will be available to anyone completing a UK degree from the summer of 2021 or after. If you’re beginning your studies in the 2020-21 academic year, you will be able to benefit from this new route.

Eligible postgraduate courses include:

  • A one-year Masters beginning in the 2020-21 academic year or later
  • A two-year Masters beginning in the 2019-20 academic year or later
  • A three-year Masters (or longer) or a PhD beginning in the 2018-19 academic year or later

Students completing other postgraduate or undergraduate degree-level courses will also be eligible, provided they graduate in the summer of 2021 or later.

Unfortunately, you will not be eligible if you graduate and your Tier 4 visa expires prior to the introduction of the Graduate Immigration Route.

Key Points of the Program

  • Remain in the UK for two or three years without having a sponsor
  • Work at any skill level
  • There will be no cap on the number of people who can benefit from the Graduate Route
  • Does not count towards the 5 year Indefinite Leave to Remain 

EU/EEA or Swiss nationals

The UK has left the European Union and EU/EEA or Swiss nationals and their family members should have applied to retain their rights under the EU Settlement Scheme. 

Students from European Union who come to the UK after 1 January 2021 will be subject to the same immigration rules as non-EU students.

Coronavirus Impact

International students currently outside the UK due to travel restriction because coronavirus will still be eligible to access the graduate route as long as they are in the UK by April 6, 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK.

“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,” states the UK guidance.


Frequently Asked Questions About the Graduate Route

When is the exact opening date of the new program?

We are still waiting for full information on the scheme including the start date. We will update this page as soon as more information is available.

Will my university need to sponsor my application?

No. You will not need any sponsorship to apply for the Graduate Route.

How many people can access the Graduate Route?

There will be no cap on the number of people who can benefit from the Graduate Route.

Will there be any restriction on the work I will be able to do with a Graduate Route Visa?

The Home Office has stated that full-time and part-time work at any level will be allowed. 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.

When can I switch to another visa category?

Graduates are expected to be able to switch to a Skilled work or Tier 5 category. Remember that the time spent under the new Graduate Route will not be counted on the five-year requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain so the sooner you switch to another visa the better.

What are your thoughts on the new Graduate Route? Tell us in the comment section below.

IaM can help with your visa application to the United States, the UK & other countries

If you need help with a US visa, a UK Visa, or visa to Europe, including help with appointment booking obligations, IaM can help. For more information and advice on US immigration, UK immigration law and US visa applications or if you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator at IaM.


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