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​The Home Office intends to introduce a new 'Graduate route' to be launched in the summer of 2021. ​This proposed new immigration route will enable international students to apply for a post-study visa. Full details have not yet been confirmed but this webpage outlines the information currently available. It is therefore subject to change. 

Key points

  • ​The visa will enable international graduates to stay in the UK for two years to work, or look for work, in any sector and at any level.​​ The visa will be granted for three years for international students who complete a PhD and will replace the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
  • ​Students who successfully complete a degree from the summer of 2021 will be able to apply for the route.  Those who graduate and whose Tier 4 visa expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible. 
  • A new visa application will need to be made but the process will be simple. A sponsor will not be required. There will be an application fee and applicants will pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.
  • Students who have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate or postgraduate level in any subject area and who have a valid Tier 4 visa will be eligible to apply after the route is launched. 
  • It will be possible to switch from the Graduate visa into the skilled work route subject to meeting the requirements.

Why can't the route be introduced earlier?

In response to this question, the Home Office advises:

It takes time to develop a new immigration route and ensure the framework is in place for it to successfully operate. Introducing the route in the summer of 2021 will mean that all students who graduate in the summer of 2021 or after will benefit, regardless of when they started their course. The route was announced in September 2019 to ensure that universities and stakeholders could promote the route when attracting prospective students.