The Government will implement the Graduate route in summer 2021. This route will benefit hundreds of thousands of students and boost the UK’s global offer to the best and brightest.
The recently announced Graduate route demonstrates the UK is a globally focused, outward facing nation committed to attracting the best students from around the world. Hundreds of thousands of international students will be able to benefit from this route. It will also assist the UK’s higher education sector as they compete in a global market for international students.
The new route will be launched in the summer of 2021. Any student who successfully completes their degree-level course at a qualifying institution in the summer of 2021 or thereafter will be eligible to apply. This includes students who are already studying. Announcing the route now enables prospective students to decide where to study, knowing they have the option of staying in the UK to work after completing their studies.
All students accepted for the Graduate route will receive two years non-extendable leave. During that time, they will be able to work, or look for work, at any skill level. Graduates will also be able to switch into skilled work once they have found a suitable job.
Those who graduate and whose leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible for the Graduate route. The vast majority of these students will have commenced their course prior to the announcement of the new route, and therefore had no expectation of benefiting from such a route when they applied to study in the UK. However, these students can still work in the UK post-study if they secure a graduate level job which meets the requirements of the Tier 2 skilled work route. They will also continue to benefit from the generous provisions which allow them to switch into skilled work on favourable terms. They are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test, have a reduced salary threshold and are not subject to the annual cap on numbers under this route.
This route is being introduced to help new graduates who complete their education in the UK to get a head-start on their career and allow them to look for work as soon as they have successfully graduated. It is entirely appropriate that they should benefit from this route, rather than those with degrees previously gained in the UK who have already progressed in their career, whether in the UK or overseas.
The earlier Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) route was closed in 2012 because evidence suggested that the route was open to abuse, and many on the route were unemployed or in low-skilled work. The Graduate route will have safeguards to ensure that we have control over who can access it, in order to prevent such abuse in the future. Students will only be eligible for the route if they can demonstrate that they have successfully passed their course at degree level or above, studied at a trusted institution, and complied with the terms of their student visa.