On 11 September 2019, the UK Government announced the creation of a new immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies. Whilst there was excitement amongst Higher Education colleagues and students that the old Post Study Visa was being resurrected there was still confusion on how this new visa category would be implemented and who will qualify.
The Government have now given further clarification:
It will be introduced in the summer of 2021 and therefore those students who graduate in the summer of 2021 or after will be able to switch status to this new visa category.
The Graduate Immigration Route will only be available to international students who have a valid Tier 4 certificate and have completed a degree-level course or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.
This means that any student who successfully completes their degree-level course at a qualifying institution in the summer of 2021 or after will be eligible. This includes students who are already studying in the UK. Those whose Tier 4 visas expire before the summer of 2021 will need to benefit from securing a job offer and switching to Tier 2.
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. Graduates will need to switch into a skilled work visa category prior to their two-year visa expiring.
The graduate immigration route will require a new application. It will include the payment of a visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The exact fee will be set out in due course. This route will not require sponsorship meaning that universities or an employer will not need to sponsor the student to switch into the graduate immigration route.
The route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement. However, graduates who find an appropriate job and meet the requirements will be able to switch into skilled work, which is a route to settlement.