The new graduate immigration route – which offers international students a post-study two-year work visa – has opened to applications today, the Home Office has said.
Students at bachelor’s and master’s levels will be allowed to stay in the UK without the promise of a job for two years while they “build their careers” in the country – doctoral students receive a five-year visa. Migrants can apply for a skilled worker visa after graduation and finding employment in the UK.
The route does not impose minimum salary requirements – and comes without a cap on places. Applicants will pay a visa fee of £700 and the Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year.
The International Education Strategy has set a target of increasing international higher education students in the UK to 600,000 by 2030.
“International students are a vital part of our society, and those who graduate from our world-leading universities should have the opportunity to stay and build meaningful careers here, in the UK,” said universities minister Michelle Donelan.
“That is why we are introducing this new route for international graduates, enabling British businesses to attract and retain some of the brightest, most talented graduates across the globe, and helping this nation build back better from the pandemic.”
The chief executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs, Anne Marie Graham, said: “We know that employability is a priority for international students coming to study in the UK.
“We welcome the graduate route as a unique opportunity for eligible international graduates to further enhance employability skills and gain experience of the UK labour market for a period after completing their studies.”
Applicants who began courses in autumn 2020, or spring 2021, need to be in the UK by 27 September 2021. Students beginning their course this autumn or early next year will need to be in the UK by 6 April 2022.