Anastasija Vasiljeva, Immigration Solicitor
Changes in immigration rules – graduate route for international students from 1 July 2021
The government published its statement of changes to the Immigration Rules on 4 March 2021. The most anticipated part of these changes has been the introduction of the new Graduate Route, which will open to international students on 1 July 2021.
This is great news for those who are currently studying in the UK or are planning to commence their studies soon. International students who have successfully completed their undergraduate, masters or PhD degree after 1 July 2021 will be able to apply under this immigration route.
Unlike other immigration routes currently available to graduate students in the UK, the Graduate Route will not have a cap on the number of successful applications, there will be no restrictions in terms of study subject area and the applicants will not require a sponsor in order to apply.
Importantly, the route will be available to those who had to undertake distance learning as a result of Covid-19, as long as they had a valid visa under Tier 4 or Student Route on or after 1 July 2021. There is also no requirement to have an offer of employment, no restriction on the types of work that can be undertaken or a minimum salary requirement under this type of leave.
Applicants must be aware that they need to be in the UK in order to apply; those who have been studying remotely would have to arrive in the UK before 21 June 2021 (for those who began their studies in Autumn 2020) or 27 September 2021 (for those who began their studies in January or February 2021) to complete studies in the UK. The application will include the payment of a visa fee of £700 and the Immigration Health Surcharge at the full rate of £624 per year. 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.
Successful applicants will be able to stay in the UK for a maximum period of 2 years (3 years for PhD graduates) looking for work or switching between different positions. At the end of this period, graduates will have to either leave the UK or switch into another immigration route, for example the Skilled Worker route (formerly known as Tier 2 General), Global Talent or Innovator routes.
Unfortunately, the time spent in the UK under this route does not count towards settlement, however it opens a wide range of possibilities for those currently studying or seeking to commence their studies in the UK.
Following Brexit, EU students will no longer be able to live, work or study in the UK without settled or pre-settled status. Those who have not entered the UK before 31 December 2020 will have to apply for a student visa in order to be able to study in the UK and will also be able to benefit from the Graduate Route at a later stage after they complete their degrees.
Whilst the details of this immigration route are still being clarified by the government, it certainly opens opportunities for many students, and our Immigration Team at Quastels will be happy to advise those who are interested.
Please note – this article does not constitute legal advice.