UK Government have announced plans to re-introduce the graduate visa route for international students, but this has not been introduced yet and so you cannot apply for it currently. At present the information we have around this is limited, however as soon as the Government releases more information, we will share this it on this page.

What is the graduate route?

The Graduate route, if brought into force in line with information currently available, would provide two years of leave following Tier 4 study. It would permit employment and self-employment and facilitate the move into other work routes that potentially lead to settlement.

It was first announced on 11 September 2019 and followed up with a Home Office factsheet on 14 October 2019. There has been no further information since the General Election which took place in December 2019. However, Home Office policy staff are still developing the scheme and have said that they might be able to publish more details around May or June this year.

Which students might be able to apply?

According to UKCISA,

  • Students with Tier 4 (General) student leave - it is unlikely that anyone else will be covered
  • Students whose leave has not expired when the scheme is introduced - this is because you will have to apply for the Graduate route in the UK and there will be no provision for applications outside the UK
  • Students who have successfully completed (passed) their course - Home Office information refers to students 'graduating' in summer 2021 but in practice this means students who have been notified that they have passed their course. The education sector has asked the Home Office to use more accurate terminology in future. It is likely that Tier 4 sponsors will be required to notify the Home Office of successful completion, although you will not be sponsored under this route
  • Students who have successfully completed a recognised UK degree - although the Home Office information talks about 'degree-level' qualifications, its current thinking appears to have changed to degrees only. This means that certificates, diplomas and other non-degree qualifications at RQF 6 or SCQF 9 and above may not qualify, even though many of them are vocational qualifications, including teaching and law. We do not know the reason for this, although the Home Office and some higher education providers were concerned about students who enrolled on a degree course but left early with a certificate or diploma in order to start work under the Tier 1 (Post-study Work) scheme which was closed in 2012
  • Tier 4 (General) students who successfully complete the course on the CAS they used to obtain the Tier 4 leave they currently hold - the Home Office has suggested that students who change course, even if their study condition permits this, may not qualify for this route. This is particularly likely to affect research students. We do not know the reason for this, although it might be because is easier to draft legislation to cover applicants who have not changed course. We think this sounds unreasonable as it would exclude students who have complied with their study condition, which is already very restrictive. Our argument is that no one should be penalised for changing to a course which better suits their study and career aspirations, and no students should feel obliged to continue studying a course which does not suit them because of fear of missing out on the Graduate route 
  • The Home Office has stated in meetings that it does not intend to extend this route to students who spend only a short period of time in the UK, for example, a semester as a distance learner or possibly students who spend a top-up year or less in the UK. We have asked whether Tier 4 part-time postgraduates will be able to apply under the Graduate route, but have not yet received confirmation either way
  • In the future, anyone who has already been granted Graduate route leave will not be able to apply for it again.