Immigration scheme for overseas graduates launches

Students from overseas who have graduated from a British university will be able to apply for a two year work visa from today.

Overseas graduates from Scottish universities will be able to take advantage if the new scheme.
Overseas graduates from Scottish universities will be able to take advantage if the new scheme.

The Graduate route provides an opportunity for international graduates who have been awarded their degree from a UK university to stay in the UK and work - or look for work - at any skill level for at least two years.

The UK Government said the new route, part of the points-based immigration system, will help attract the best talent from around the world. A previous post-study work visa, which had allowed non-EU graduates to remain in the UK for two years, was abolished by the UK Government in 2012.

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Those who have graduated from Scottish universities will be able to take part in the scheme, as well as graduates of institutions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel said: “Our world leading universities welcome thousands of international students every year.

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“As we build back better, it is vital that the UK continues to be a beacon for talented young people across the globe who want to make a difference. The new Graduate route does just that, giving the best and brightest graduates the opportunity to continue contributing to the UK’s prosperity and the freedom to kickstart their careers in the UK.”

International graduates must have completed an eligible course at a UK higher education provider, with a track record of compliance with the government’s immigration requirements, to apply to the Graduate route.

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The Graduate route is unsponsored, meaning applicants do not need a job offer to apply to the route. There is no minimum salary requirements nor caps on numbers. Graduates on the scheme can work flexibly, switch jobs and develop their career as required. 

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A coronavirus concession on the date by which students must enter the UK, if they started courses in 2020 and are unable to travel due to the pandemic, has been extended to 27 September, recognising the continuing disruption many face due to international travel restrictions.

Applicants who began their studies in autumn 2020, or in spring 2021 will need to be in the UK with permission as a student, 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.

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Chief executive of 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. International students who are able to access this route will have the flexibility to apply for work in any sector or role that fits their skills profile, including self-employment, without the need for employer sponsorship.”

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Successful applicants on this route at bachelor’s or master’s level are able to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, at any skill level for two years. Doctoral students are able to stay for three years.

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