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Updated on 16 June 2020 - UK Government revealed plans for new immigration route to enable international students to work in the UK for two-years post-graduation

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled plans to transform how talented international students are able build successful careers in the UK through a new immigration route which enables international students to work in the UK for two years post graduation.

Read full government news release and Home Office Fact Sheet.

Updated on 16.06.20: In view of the coronavirus pandemic, UKVI published new guidance (paragraph 3.22 - 3.25) which states that if a new student starts a course on 'blended' learning or distance learning, they will be eligible to apply for the graduate route as long as they physically arrive in the UK before 6 April 2021, and have a valid visa when the scheme is launched (in the summer of 2021).

According to UKCISA, some key features of the route include:

  • It will be open to international students who have successfully completed a course of study at undergraduate (RQF 6) level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance, and who have a valid and extant student visa at the time of application;
  • The application process will be simple. There will be an application fee and applicants will pay the Immigration Health Surcharge;
  • Applicants will be subject to identity, criminality and security checks;
  • The leave period granted will be two years and will be non-extendable. Settlement rights will not be accrued;
  • Individuals will be able to work, or look for work in any sector, at any level;
  • Individuals will be able to switch into the skilled work route if they meet the requirements.

History of the policy clarification:

On 13 September 2019, UKCISA announced to its members that they have also received the following confirmation from the Home Office:

  • Any international student who will complete their course in or after the summer of 2021 will be eligible to apply for the new two year Graduate route.
  • Unfortunately the Graduate route will not be open to those who have completed their studies or are due to complete them in the summer of 2020

On 4 October 2019, the Home Office published a Fact Sheet which confirms that the intention is that:

  • Students will need to apply for this visa in the UK
  • This 2-year period will not count towards settlement in the UK, and
  • Students who start their course in 2020/21 academic year should benefit from this.

You may wish to watch the Video on the Home Office twitter account.

On 14 October 2019, The Home Office published further details regarding the scheme, confirming that students on a degree level (or above) course who hold a valid Tier 4 visa and graduate in the summer of 2021 will be eligible and explained why the scheme can't be brought in earlier.

On 24 January 2020, UKCISA published an analysis of the new Graduate Route and the likely eligibility of students and their dependants.

Further information on Tier 4 students' work permissions during and after studies can be found on our 'Work during and after studies' webpage.