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Are You Ready for the New UK Graduate Visa Which Opens on 1st July 2021?

If you are already studying at a British university, you plan to enroll later this year or next, or you are weighing up your options as to which country to study in, the new UK graduate visa may be of considerable interest to you. Many international students who come to the UK do not necessarily have any long-term plans. They know they want a high-quality education, but they may not know what their next move will be once they graduate. After all, who knows who they will meet during their time here, which opportunities may present themselves, or even if they will stay on our current course of study. For those international students who complete their studies, the new graduate visa route provides a new option that was not previously open to them. In this article, we will discuss the new graduate visa for international students, which opens for applications on 1st July 2021.

Who Is The Graduate Visa Intended For?

The new graduate visa is designed for international students at a UK university who would like to stay here once their course (and visa) comes to an end. Until now, foreign students did not have this choice. They would either have to secure a work visa immediately, apply for another visa type (e.g. a partner/family visa), or leave the UK. This placed international graduates in the UK under enormous pressure at the very time they needed to focus on their studies and final exams. The goal of the new scheme, in the words of the UK’s Home Office, is to allow the UK to “retain the brightest and the best international students to continue to contribute to society and the economy post-study”. As Kevin Foster, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, stated in the announcement of the visa, “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”.

What Are The Eligibility Requirements For The New UK Graduate Visa Route?

Full details of the new graduate visa are not yet available; these will be published in the coming weeks, in readiness for 1st July 2021, when applications open for those graduating this year.

Only international students who have graduated from an eligible undergraduate (or higher) course at a UK higher education provider will be eligible. In addition, the applicants must have a track record of complying with the Home Office’s rules. Students who have breached immigration rules or stayed beyond the expiry of their visa may be refused.

The scheme will only be available to those whose study visa has not already expired. For this reason, if your course of study ends this summer, it will be essential that you apply for a graduate visa as soon as applications open at the start of July 2021. As long as you apply before your visa expires, you will be able to remain until you have a decision on your case.

It is expected that graduate visas will last for a period of two years, and for PhDs, this is likely to be three years. The visa will not be extendable, but you will then be able to apply for a Skilled Worker visa once in full-time employment with a skill level above RQF3 and a salary that exceeds the minimum requirement (currently £25,600 or the going rate for your occupation).

Will I Need A Job Offer To Secure A Graduate Visa In The UK From July 2021?

No, one of the key features and perks of the new graduate visa is that you will not need a job offer from a licensed sponsoring employer. This is what makes a graduate visa different from a work visa. Rather, the scheme will allow graduate visa holders to take their time to find suitable employment. The announcement also makes clear there are no salary requirements or caps on the number of visas available. The Home Office has also stated, “Graduates on the route will be able to work flexibly, switch jobs and develop their career as required”. This means that graduates will not be restricted to only working for licensed sponsors, and they can change employers without the need to apply for a new visa.

What About International Students Who Have Been Unable To Come To The UK To Study Due To COVID-19

Many international students enrolled at a UK university have been unable to enter the country to commence their studies in person. In such cases, the Home Office advises that students will have until 21st June 2021 to enter the UK to be eligible for a graduate visa (this deadline was previously 6th April 2021). They also clarify that those who only started their studies in January or February 2021 and have been unable to come to the UK will need to arrive on or before 27th September 2021.

Final words

The graduate visa scheme will provide certainty to international students who have invested their time, energy, and money in the UK, that they can stay and find a job in their own time. Depending on the job market at the time of applying, this may take several months, hence they will have the opportunity to find suitable well-paid employment without the pressure of potentially being forced to leave the UK. If you need assistance with your immigration matter, you can speak to one of our specialist immigration solicitors in London.

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"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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