The Government has announced more details on when the new proposed Graduate Immigration Route will come into effect and which international students will be eligible to apply. Successful applicants will be able to remain in the UK for up to 2 years after completing their degree course to work or look for work.
The route will be available to international students who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a UK university with a “track record of compliance” and who have valid Tier 4 leave to remain at the time of application. The new route will be launched in summer 2021. Any eligible students who graduate in summer 2021 or after will be able to apply under this route. This includes students who have already started their degree courses and who will graduate in 2021.
- Successful applicants will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of 2 years. Graduates may be able to switch into Tier 2 if they are offered a skilled role by an employer which is registered as a Tier 2 sponsor.
- The new route will be launched in summer 2021. Any eligible students who graduate in summer 2021 or after will be able to apply under this route. This includes students who have already started their courses and who graduate in 2021.
- Eligible students will need to submit a new application under the Graduate Immigration Route before their existing Tier 4 leave to remain expires. They will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge and an application fee, which is to be set out in due course.
- Those who graduate or whose Tier 4 leave expires before the route is introduced in summer 2021 will not be eligible to apply.
This is still a proposal and this new Graduate Immigration Route is therefore not yet set out in the Immigration Rules. As such, there may be changes depending on the outcome of the forthcoming general election.
If there are no significant changes, it is important to note that international students will need to have attended a university with a “track record of compliance”. In practice, under the proposed new route, students could potentially fail to be eligible to apply through no fault of their own if their university has compliance issues.
It will not be possible to apply to extend leave under the Graduate Immigration Route and time spent under this route will not count towards Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. However, introduction of this route has been welcomed by universities and overseas students as it will allow eligible students to remain in the UK and work for up to two years after finishing their degrees. This allows students a more realistic time frame in which to find permanent skilled work after graduation and switch into Tier 2 sponsorship if they wish to remain in the UK longer term.