If you’re an international student in the UK due to graduate in the Summer of 2021, here’s what you need to know about the new UK Graduate Immigration Visa, also known as the Post Study Work visa, covering:

  • Changes to UK immigration rules for international students
  • An overview of the UK Graduate Immigration Visa
  • UK Graduate Immigration Visa visa eligibility criteria
  • UK Graduate Immigration Visa visa fees
  • How to find out more about getting a skilled job in the UK

Let’s dive in.

Changes to the UK Immigration Rules for International Students

Under previous UK immigration regime, it was double-hard for graduating international students to find a job in the UK. Not only was finding a graduate job in the UK difficult, but getting a company to sponsor your work visa application was another barrier to overcome.

UK study visas typically only last 3-4 months past the end of a course of study, and even for students who start their job applications early, it didn’t leave a lot of time to go through the recruitment process, get a job offer and make a UK work visa application.

It was marginally easier for European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals while the UK was part of the EU, as they didn’t need a visa to live and work in the UK.

But now the UK has left the EU, all international students (with the exception of Irish passport holders and those who have registered for Pre-settled Status or Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme) need a visa if they want to live and work in the UK after their studies.

So while this has created a more ‘level playing field’ for overseas talent – with Indian programmers and US project managers now being treated the same as French process engineers and Dutch management consultants – the visa challenge is now there for all international students.

Launching the UK Graduate Immigration Visa

Announced in 2019, the UK Graduate Immigration Visa  launched on 1 July 2021. Any international student graduating in Summer 2021 may be eligible to apply for a 2-year UK Graduate Immigration visa.

The UK Graduate Immigration Visa visa will be available to international students so that they can look for and take up work in the UK for up to two years after finishing their course of study. After this 2-year period, and providing their employer is wiling to sponsor it, they can switch to a Skilled Worker visa or other type of long-term UK work visa.

UK Graduate Immigration Visa Eligibility Criteria

The UK Graduate Immigration Visa eligibility criteria have been published by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and require that students:

  • Have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above and graduate in the summer of 2021, or later; and
  • Studied on a course at least 12 months in duration; and
  • Studied at a Higher Education Provider that has a track record of compliance; and
  • Hold a valid Tier 4 Student (or Student visa) when they apply for a UK Post Study Work visa.

You don’t need a job offer to qualify for a UK Graduate Immigration Visa.

Graduate Immigration Visa Fees

The Graduate Immigration Visa fees have been set at £700. Recent announcements do not state whether applicants also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which is currently £624 per year and could significantly increase the cost of the visa.

Graduating Before Summer 2021

Anyone who graduates before Summer 2021 is unfortunately ineligible to apply for a UK Graduate Immigration Visa. 

There has to be a cut-off date for introducing a new visa regime, and UKVI has justified this by stating that anyone coming to the UK to study before the Graduate Immigration visa was announced in 2019 wouldn’t expect to be able to benefit from it. 

Hence, the time lag between the announcement and the 2-year gap before the new UK  Graduate Immigration Visa becomes available.

However, depending upon your nationality, there may be other non-sponsored visa routes open to you, such as the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa for BN(O) passport holders and the Young Professionals Scheme visa for Indian talent.

How to Apply for the UK Graduate Immigration Visa

The good news about applying for the Graduate Immigration visa is that it’s 100% digital and you won’t need to visit a visa application centre.

You’ll be able to apply online while in the UK using a new ‘ChipChecker’ process, similar to the system used on the EU Settlement Scheme and for Hong Kong BN(O) visa applications.

Once your application has been approved, you’ll be sent an updated Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) if you’re a visa national so that you can show your immigration status at the UK border.

And if you want help applying for your UK Graduate Immigration Visa or just want to be 100% sure it’s submitted correctly, you can appoint a professional immigration advisor through Help with my visa! to handle the whole process for you.

Find Out More About the UK Graduate Immigration Visa

To find out more about the UK Graduate Immigration Visa and how to successfully get your Dream Job in the UK, sign up to the Help with my visa! mailing list below. We’ll send you 2-4 emails per month on the latest updates to the UK Gradate Immigration Visa, as well as how you can land a skilled job in the UK after graduating based on techniques that have been proven to get multiple six-figure job offers in several different countries and across different industries.

Find out more about the UK Post Study visa and how to get your Dream Job in the UK after you graduate.

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