UNITED KINGDOM: New Rules Laid Before Parliament to Create a New Route for UK Graduates

March 5, 2021


The UK government has presented parliament with an update to the immigration rules, including the introduction of the anticipated Graduate Route, which is expected to open for applications on 1 July 2021.

The purpose of the Graduate Route is to allow international students to remain in the UK to work, or look for work, for two years (three years for doctoral students) after they have completed their studies. All international students who have successfully completed a degree (or other permitted qualification) at undergraduate level or above at a UK higher education provider with a track record of compliance, and who have valid Student (or Tier 4) permission at the time of application, will be able to apply.

This new route will be unsponsored and will allow the applicant to work unrestricted in the UK, with the hope that they can gain experience and possibly find sponsored employment at the end of their Graduate leave.

The application will need to be made in the UK whilst the applicant has valid leave. It is expected that the application will cost £700, plus the Immigration Health Surcharge at the full rate of £624 per year.

Individuals who already have permission as a dependent of a Student who is applying on this new route can also apply to extend their permission as a dependent – however new dependents are not permitted on this route. Students will also need to know the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) they used for their most recent Student (or Tier 4) application in order to apply for the Graduate route.

The new route does not lead to settlement and is not extendable, but does allow switching to a Skilled Worker route which is a route to settlement after 5 years. Unfortunately, those who graduate and whose Tier 4 or Student visa leave expires before the route is opened will not be eligible.

Further updates for students include concessions for students unable to travel to the UK due to the pandemic. Applicants who began their studies in autumn 2020 now have until 21 June 2021 to enter the UK (updated from the previous date of 6 April 2021) in order to be eligible for the route. Students who began their studies in January or February 2021 will need to be in the UK by 27 September 2021.

Our Advice

Individuals who may be affected are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, please contact us.