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The UK Graduate Immigration Route for International Students

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The UK government recently published the exciting news that international students will soon be able to work in the UK for up to three years after graduation via the new Graduate Route. This creates a huge opportunity for international students who complete their degrees in the UK to take advantage of the business opportunities available across the country. By staying to work in the UK, you can start strong with your career and take up the chance to collaborate with UK businesses as they rebuild after the pandemic.

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What is the Graduate Route?

The Graduate Route is designed to give international students studying a UK degree the opportunity to find work in the UK after their studies. The route will enable every international student to apply to stay in the UK and work flexibly for up to two years, or three years for doctoral students.

With the Graduate Route, there is no need to have a job offer or a minimum salary guaranteed before you apply. This means that you can switch jobs throughout your time in the UK and develop your career in your own unique way.

Will I be Eligible?

To be eligible for the Graduate Route, you will be expected to have studied in the UK for the duration of your degree. However, since the pandemic has led to increased flexibility in how international students can study, you will still be able to apply for the graduate route even if you have been undertaking a UK degree online outside of the country for a period.

If you’re starting your degree remotely and travelling later: Students that are planning on starting a UK degree this year via distance-learning and travelling to the UK later will still be eligible. However, you must arrive in the UK before your visa expires or by 6 April 2022 to keep your eligibility.

If you’re currently on a distance-learning course: Students who began a course lasting 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 via distance-learning and have not entered the UK will still be eligible. However, you will have to enter the UK before your visa expires or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner, to stay eligible.

When Can I Apply?

The scheme launches on 1 July 2021. As soon as you have completed your course and have your final results, you can apply for the Graduate Route. There is no need to wait until you have graduated to apply.

How do I Apply?

You will need to apply via the UK Government’s app, which will be available when the scheme is live.

If your visa expires after you have applied, you can stay in the UK until you receive a decision regarding your application.

How Much Will it Cost?

There is a fee to apply for the Graduate Route. The application cost is £700, plus £634 per year for the Immigration Health Surcharge. This surcharge will enable you to access the UK’s NHS (National Health Services) in the same way a permanent UK resident can.

Will I be Able to Switch to the Skilled Worker Route if I’m on the Graduate Route?

Yes – if you are on the Graduate Route, you will still be able to switch into the Skilled Worker Route, as long as you meet the Skilled Worker Route requirements.

The Skilled Worker Route has stricter eligibility criteria and is already in place for international students. It requires you to already have a job with an approved employer at a specified minimum salary before applying. This route allows you to work in the UK for up to five years with an approved employer. Being on the Skilled Worker Route can help you apply for settlement rights in future years, which can enable you to permanently live in the UK.

How to Find out More

To find out more about this exciting opportunity and keep up to date with the latest news on the subject, visit the GOV.UK website or read the government’s guide to the Graduate Route.

Are you studying for a degree in London soon? Check out our post on everything you need to know about studying in London as an international student.

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