Graduate Route Update: arrival deadlines, and when to apply
Many student/tier4 visa holders graduating this summer will be considering applying for the new Graduate Route visa. If you are one of them, we recommend carefully reading our information about the route, when to apply, and what alternatives are available. The route will launch, and its rules be finalised, on 1 July 2021. However, you will likely not be able to apply straight away, and in most cases it will be to your advantage to wait until closer to the expiry date of your visa before doing so.
Arrival Deadlines for Graduate Route Eligibility
On 11 June 2021, the UKVI updated its visa concessions in response to Coronavirus. This will affect students who are due to graduate in summer 2021.
Following this change, and subject to the other requirements of the route:
- Students currently enrolled on a course of 1 year or less (e.g. Masters students graduating this summer as planned) now have until 27 September 2021 to enter the UK for the first time
- Students due to graduate from a longer course (e.g. final year undergraduate, or postgraduate research students) have no specific deadline to return to the UK. However, they must meet the other requirements of the route, including returning to the UK and making the application before their student visa expires, and having spent a minimum of 12 months studying in the UK (remote study between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 can be counted towards this)
When can you apply for the Graduate Route?
In most cases, it will not be to your advantage to apply for the Graduate Route immediately. Remember - a student/tier 4 visa permits certain types of work during the 4-month period between the end of your course and your visa expiry date. You should assess your options carefully, and be aware that:
- For many graduate roles, you may be offered sponsorship under the 'Skilled Worker' Route. Depending on your circumstances, and particularly if your goal is Settlement (Permanent Residence) in the UK, this may be a more advantageous visa route for you. You can switch from the 'Graduate Route' to the 'Skilled Worker' route, however, any application fee or Immigration Health Surcharge you paid for the Graduate Route is unlikely to be refunded.
- If you successfully apply for the 'Graduate Route', you will be granted a fixed period of immigration permission that starts from the day your application is decided. Therefore, provided you submit a successful application before the expiry of your current visa, the later you apply for this visa, the later its end date will be.
IMPORTANT: You must not apply for the 'Graduate Route' before the university has reported to the UKVI that you have completed your course. The university will do this automatically shortly after you become eligible (not until after your degree is conferred and your results officially notified to you), and you will receive an email confirming that the report has been made. If you attempt to apply for a 'Graduate Route' visa before receiving this notification, this may cause your application to be refused.