Employment and pensions

New graduate route opening July 2021

Published on 13th May 2021

As part of its reform of the UK immigration system, the government has confirmed that a new route for UK graduates will open this summer, enabling recent foreign national students to remain in the UK and seek employment without the need for formal sponsorship. This provides an excellent option for businesses looking to hire graduates without the initial burden of sponsorship.

On 4 March 2021 the UKVI announced that the new graduate route will open for applications on 1 July 2021. This visa, while very similar to its predecessor the Post Study Worker visa, is designed to enable the UK to retain the brightest and best international students to continue to contribute to society and the economy following their studies.

International students must have completed an eligible course at a UK higher education provider, with a track record of compliance with the UKVI's immigration requirements. The international students will need to complete a degree at undergraduate level or above in the UK.

Students who successfully obtain the graduate visa will be able to work or look for work after their studies for a period of 2 years (maximum), or 3 years for doctoral students.

Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, Kevin Foster, said:

"… 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 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."

The graduate route is an unsponsored route, meaning applicants will not need a job offer to apply for it. There are no minimum salary requirements or caps on the number of applicants permitted within the route. It allows for more flexibility, with the ability to switch jobs and develop careers as required.

This route provides employers with the ability to hire graduates, without the need for sponsorship or associated reporting responsibilities. However employers should be mindful that at the end of an individual's graduate visa they will be required to apply for another visa if they wish to remain in the UK. Therefore while graduate visas do not require sponsorship they may lead to companies having to sponsor individuals in order to retain them.

Should you require any assistance in relation to the graduate visa or have questions about how to sponsor an individual following the expiry of their graduate visa please do get in contact with our highly experienced team who will be able to assist.


* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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