According to the UK government, a new post-study work visa will be available for application on July 1, 2021. According to John Dunn, director of citizenship and immigration at Sable International, the visa will allow international students to stay in the UK for two to three years after completing their studies.
Dunn described it as a significant advancement that will allow UK businesses to retain the best international students to help their economy after they graduate.
“To apply, interested students must have a track record of compliance with the government’s immigration requirements. Students with a post-study work visa will be able to work or look for work following the completion of their studies.
“In short, the new changes are very positive for students who want to stay in the UK after finishing their studies. Previously, South Africans who wanted to stay in the UK would have had to have a company offer them a job and sponsor them on a work permit,” Dunn explained.
“As a recent graduate with little work experience, this is a welcome change.”
The following criteria will apply under the new visa legislation:
International students who have completed a degree at the undergraduate level or higher at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance and who have valid Student visa permission at the time of application will be eligible for the route.
Successful applicants at the bachelor’s or master’s level will be able to stay in the UK for two years and work or look for work at any skill level. Doctoral students will be permitted to stay for three years.
Applicants must pay additional fees for the Graduate visa and apply before their student visa expires. The exact fee will be determined later.
Applicants are not required to be employed to remain on the Graduate Route, and there are no restrictions on the type of work they can do. There will also be no minimum wage requirements or numerical caps. Applicants can spend as much time looking for work and can leave or switch jobs without affecting their visa.
Graduates will be able to apply for the Skilled Worker route once they have found a suitable job in the UK.
Concessions have also been put in place due to Covid-19 for students who cannot travel to the UK due to the pandemic, recognising the ongoing disruption many faces in international travel. Applicants who began their studies in the autumn of 2020 have until 21 June 2021 to enter the UK 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 27 September 2021.
If an applicant began a one-year master’s degree programme in January 2021, they must arrive in the UK by September 27, 2021, and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK to apply for the Graduate route.
The route’s launch demonstrates the government’s support for the International Education Strategy, aiming to increase education exports to £35 billion and international higher education students in the UK to 600,000 by 2030.
Individuals who already have permission as a dependant of a student applying through this route may apply to extend their permission as a dependant; however, new dependants are not permitted.
The route does not count towards a settlement; however, graduates will be able to apply to other routes, such as the Skilled Worker route, at the end of their two- to three-year stay.
Those who graduate and whose Student visa leave expires before the route is implemented will be ineligible; however, most of these students will have had no expectation of benefiting from such a route when they applied to study in the UK.
Graduates on the path will be able to work flexible hours, switch jobs as they please, and advance their careers as needed.
EU (and EEA and Swiss) students who do not have settled or pre-settled status in the UK can apply to the Graduate route in the same way as other international students. Applicants who have settled or pre-settled status will not require a post-study work visa to remain in the UK.
More changes to the immigration rules are on the way.
The Graduate Route comes as UK chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to launch another new immigration route to help start-ups and fast-growing firms recruit the talent they need to innovate and grow in his Budget speech to the House of Commons on 3 March 2021.
As part of the new path, highly skilled migrants with a job offer from a recognised high-growth company will be eligible for a visa without the need for sponsorship or third-party endorsement.
“We will keep an eye out for any further developments. Any new information will be clarified as it becomes available,” Dunn said.