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*** Please note that this information currently only refers to the future Graduate Immigration Route Visa, which the UK Government intends to launch in summer 2021 ***
This route is for a Student in the UK who wants to work, or look for work, following the successful completion of an eligible course of study at UK bachelor’s degree-level or above. The study must have been with a higher education provider with a track record of compliance.

Key Points:

• The Graduate Immigration 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 a valid Tier 4 visa at the time of application
• Successful applicants on this route will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of two years. Graduates will be able to switch into skilled work once they have found a suitable job
• The new route will be launched in the summer of 2021, meaning that any eligible student who graduates in the summer of 2021 or after will be able to apply for the route. This includes students who have already started their courses. Universities will also be able attract students starting in the 2020/21 academic year on the basis that they will benefit
• The launch of the route demonstrates the government’s support for our education sector, and commitment to the International Education Strategy, which sets out our ambition to increase education exports to £35 billion and the number of international higher education students to 600,000 by 2030
• The graduate immigration route will require a new application
• It will include the payment of a visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The exact fee will be set out in due course
• Those who graduate and whose Tier 4 leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible, however, most of these students will have had no expectation of benefitting from such a route when they applied to study in the UK
International students who complete a UK Undergraduate or Master’s degree with be able to stay on for two years afterwards, PhD graduates are to get three years


• In the year ending June 2019, the number of sponsored student visa applications rose 9% to 236,679. This included an 11% increase for the higher education sector to 201,919.

Frequently asked questions:

What is the qualification requirement under the route ?

Qualification requirement

The applicant must have successfully completed a course of study for which they will be awarded a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK postgraduate degree, or that is one of those set out below.

The applicant will meet the qualification requirement if they have successfully completed a course of study which is one of the following:

(a) a law conversion course validated by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales;
(b) the Legal Practice Course in England and Wales, the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland;
(c) the Bar Practice Course in England and Wales, or the Bar Course in Northern Ireland;
(d) a foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry;
(e) a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course; or
(f) a professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public authority.

Will students who are already here be able to benefit?

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. 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. These students can still benefit from the generous provisions which allow them to switch in the skilled work route on favourable terms.

Will universities be expected to act as sponsors for those students on the graduate immigration visa after they have graduated?

Individuals applying for the Graduate Immigration Route will not need a sponsor. Tier 4 sponsors will not need to fulfil any sponsorship duties for their students if they switch onto the Graduate Immigration Route and students will not need a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to apply under this route. Tier 4 sponsors, however, will continue to be responsible for their students while they are studying.

Will this route count towards settlement?

The route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement under the 5-Year route to Settlement. However, the time spend on this route may count toward Settlement under the 10-Year route. 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.

Can I work or become a self-employed under this route ?

Successful application may work without sponsorship from the UK employers. Self-employment is not permitted, except where the following conditions are met:

a) the person has no premises which they own, other than their home, from which they carry out their business
b) the total value of any equipment used in the business does not exceed £5000; and
c) the person has no employees

Can I bring my dependents ?

Individuals who already have permission as a dependant of a Student who is applying on this route can also apply to extend their permission as a dependant on this route. New dependants are not permitted on this route.

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