Is New Graduate UK Immigration Route for You?
The UK Government made an exciting announcement. They intend to launch a new UK immigration route. It will allow international students to remain in the UK for two and, in certain circumstances, for three years after they have completed their studies.
The route will also be a part of the UK’s New Points-Based Immigration System. You’ll get the full number of points being after successfully completing a degree course from a UK Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.
What is Track Record of Compliance?
A Student sponsor which is on the OfS (the Office for Student) Register must establish a track record of compliance. The OfS Register lists all the English higher education providers who are officially registered by the Office for Student. The Office for Student is an independent regulator of higher education in England. They aim to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers. Their list is a single reference about a provider’s regulatory status. You can get the list HERE.
To establish a track record of compliance, a Student sponsor must have a track record of immigration compliance and educational oversight.
When will this Route into Force?
The Home Office will launch the Graduate route in summer 2021. The UKVI suggested that this is the earliest they can do. It takes time to develop a new immigration route and the Home Office wants to ensure that there is a solid framework for the route to operate successfully. Also, they wanted to give some time to the Universities to promote this route, especially when attracting prospective student.
Will Students who are Already Here be Able to Benefit?
From the summer of 2021, all students who graduate in the summer of 2021 or after will benefit. It is regardless of when they started their course. Bachelor and Master’s degree students can stay for up to two years. In other words, you need to have a degree at undergraduate level (RQF 6) or above. All PhD students can remain in for three years after their studies.
Your course must have been the one for which your latest Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) was assigned. The sponsoring HEP must confirm you meet this requirement. However, the Home Office does not expect the Universities to monitor you once the UKVI grants your graduate route visa application.
This rule includes those students who are already studying in the UK. However, you should be aware that those students whose Tier 4 leave (visa) expires before summer 2021, will not be eligible from this route. They should still consider applying under one of the UK’s New Points-Based Immigration System routes for skilled workers (you can find out more information about the system HERE).
Do You Need to Have a Sponsor to Apply under the New Graduate UK Immigration Route?
No, you don’t! It will be an unsponsored route. When you apply, you’ll get a one-time leave (visa) for two years. You’ll get a 3-year visa if you are a PhD student. You will not be able to extend this type of visa. With this type of visa, you will be able to work or look for work, at any skill level during this period.
Can You Apply?
The Graduate route will be open to international students, who have valid leave as a Tier 4 (General) Student. Alternatively, they may have a valid UK’s New Poised Based Immigration Student route visa.
At the time of application, you should have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above. You’ll need to have completed the entirety of their degree in the UK except for permitted study abroad programmes or when distance learning has been necessary due to Covid-19.
What about Financial and English Language Requirements?
The good news is that this route will not have a maintenance requirement. It means you don’t have to have a certain amount of money for a certain amount of days in your bank account before applying.
Also, you will not need to prove your English language ability. You have already done so by successfully completing a degree at a UK university.
However, you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. It will be at the usual rate for the Points-Based System’s routes. This route will not have recourse to public funds.
Can You Switch from the New Graduate UK Immigration Route?
Switching is a legal UK Immigration system process that allows those who are already in the UK to change visa categories. For example, if you entered the UK with the Start-Up visa and then applied under the Innovator route – you ‘switched’.
With the Graduate visa, you will be able to switch to any UK’s New Points-Based Immigration category. It is provided that you meet the requirements for that route.
What About Your Dependants?
Dependents are your spouse and children under the age of 18 who are not leading an independent life.
In other words, when your child:
- does not have a partner;
- s/he is living with you (unless they are at boarding school, college or university as part of their full-time education)
- is not employed full-time
- is wholly or mainly dependent upon you for financial and emotional support.
Your dependants can apply with you if they are already in the UK with you.
Can You Settle Under this Route?
Settlement is a legal process, which allows applicants to remain in the UK without any conditions imposed on their stay.
No, you cannot settle under this route. Generally, you’ll need to have a work-related visa for at least five years before you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.
However, if you, as a result of getting you two- or three-year graduate visa, will spend ten years lawfully in the UK, you can consider applying under the 10-year long residence route. It is provided you meet the necessary requirements, of course.
To make the summary more concise and memorable, I am providing it in the form of a table:
|For International Students (Tier 4 or New PBS Students route) with a Degree||Yes|
|English language requirement
|Immigration Health Surcharge (full rate)
|Capped (limit on the number of applicants)
|Recourse to public funds
|Any type of work
|Dependants (if already in the UK)||Yes