The Home Office has announced its intention to introduce a new 'Graduate route' to be launched in the summer of 2021, which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years (or three years for PhD graduates) after they have completed their studies.
The Government has published a Fact Sheet, including Frequently-Asked-Questions, on the new Graduate route.
Full details have not yet been confirmed but the below outlines the information currently available.
The Home Office have confirmed that students who are required to either continue their current studies or commence a new course by distance or blended learning due to Covid-19 will still be eligible to switch into the Graduate route on a concessionary basis if they spent some time studying outside the UK. To be eligible for this, they must enter the UK before 6 April 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK.
Key points are:
The Graduate 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 for undergraduate and postgraduate taught graduates and three years for PhD graduates (PhD eligibility for the three years' duration is subject to a minimum period studying in UK, yet to be confirmed)
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 (but not before) will be able to apply for the route. This includes students who have already started their courses
The Graduate route will require a new application but the process will be simple. It will include the payment of a visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The exact fee will be set out in due course
It will be possible to switch from the Graduate route into the skilled work route subject to meeting the requirements
Those who graduate and whose Tier 4 leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible
This proposal is excellent news for our international students graduating from 2021 and future applicants looking to stay for an additional two years (three in the case of PhD graduates) in the UK post-graduation to look for and /or take up work at any skill level.
The Graduate route will replace the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES), for which current PhD graduates are eligible to apply subject to meeting the requirements. DES will end when the new visa route starts.