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New UK Graduate PSW Visa Scheme Now Open

In recent months we have written about the new UK graduate visa scheme (uk post study work visa) and the opportunities this scheme opens for international students who are about to complete their studies. The good news is that as of 1st July 2021, the graduate visa scheme is now open for applications. This means that the first cohort of foreign students who are about to graduate in 2021 will be able to secure their immigration status in the UK. In this article, we will explain how the new graduate visa (which opened on 1st July 2021) works, who can apply, and the benefits of the scheme.

Graduate Visa Will Provide a Much-Needed Boost to The UK Labour Market

It is true to say that the new graduate visa will offer considerable advantages to fresh international graduates in the UK, but it will be just as beneficial to employers who are desperate for talented and qualified personnel. Rather than seeing international students leaving our shores once their studies are over, the new scheme will hopefully encourage many to stay with a view to commencing their careers in the UK. Back in March 2021, when the new visa opening date was confirmed, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster stated, “As we rebuild from the global pandemic, we want the world’s brightest talent, who aspire to a career at the highest levels of business, science, the arts and technology to see our United Kingdom as the natural place to fulfil their aspirations. The changes announced today will ensure once they have received a gold standard qualification from one of our world-leading education institutions, they can easily secure the status they need to continue living, working, and fulfilling their dreams in the UK”. As such, this is one of a series of measures, including the newly promised ‘high potential visa’, that the Home Office is introducing to meet the demand for skills and talent in the post-Brexit post-COVID-19 economy.

How Does the New UK Graduate Visa Work?

The new UK graduate visa will enable overseas students who have successfully completed a degree or postgraduate course in the UK to remain in the UK for two years. Those completing a Ph.D. or equivalent qualification will be able to stay even longer; for up to three years. The scheme is intended to allow graduates to secure their legal immigration status and allow them to find suitable work. Graduate visa holders will be able to stay longer if they apply for another substantive visa, such as a work visa or family visa, depending on their circumstances at the time. The main advantages of this type of visa are that it is easy to gain, it removes any pressure to leave the country, and it allows the holder to take their time to find a suitable role.

Am I Eligible for A UK Graduate Visa?

You will be eligible for a UK graduate visa as long as you:

  • Are applying from within the UK;
  • You have an existing student visa or Tier 4 student visa, and;
  • You have successfully completed a bachelor’s degree, a postgraduate degree in the UK (see below for more details on the course requirements)
  • Undertook your course while on a study visa

Not all course of study in the UK will allow an international student to gain a graduate visa. Applicants must have been on a course of study with an approved education provider with a track record of sponsorship compliance. A list of all education providers that meet this requirement is available on the Home Office website. Applicants must have been on a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK master’s degree, or a UK PhD or doctorate, or on one of the following:

  • a law conversion course approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
  • the Legal Practice Course in England and Wales, the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland
  • the Bar Practice Course in England and Wales, or the Bar Course in Northern Ireland
  • a foundation programme in medicine or dentistry
  • a Post-graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
  • a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)

The UK graduate visa rules also state that applicants must have studied their course in the UK for at least one year or the full length of their course, whichever is shorter.

Am I Still Able to Apply for A Graduate Visa If I Had to Study Outside the UK Due To COVID-19?

Yes, the Home Office has added several provisions which will allow international students to apply for a graduate visa if they were required to study in their home country due to COVID-19 restrictions. On this matter, the rules explain that for those with a study visa lasting more than 12 months, any time spent studying outside the UK between 24th January 2020 and 27th September 2021 will be treated as though they were actually based in the UK.

The rules also state that there is no need to meet the minimum amount of time in the UK requirement if the applicant commenced their course in 2020 or 2021 and their study visa was for 12 months long or less.

There is, however, a requirement for graduate visa applicants to be in the UK by 27th September 2021 or before their current visa expires, whichever is sooner.

How Can I Apply for The New Graduate Visa?

The application is completed online from within the UK. Applications currently cost £700, and decisions are made within eight weeks. Applicants also need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge upfront (typically £624 for each year). If you are able to secure a role in the healthcare sector, it may be possible to have this fee refunded.

Final Words

The new graduate visa offers a fantastic opportunity for brand new graduates to stay in the UK to take advantage of the currently booming economy. Indeed, according to PWC, “the UK could be the fastest-growing G7 economy up to 2050”. For this reason, the UK has a great deal to offer new graduates who are looking to advance their careers in the coming years and decades, Should you need help in making any of they application mentioned on this article, please contact one of our immigration solicitors on 02037442797 or drop us an email on

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"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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