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Sponsor-free post-study visa now live for 2021 Graduates

Posted Monday 12th July 2021

The new Graduate visa route is now live, allowing international students the opportunity to live and work at any skill level in the United Kingdom for up to two years following completion of their degree, rising to three years for doctoral graduates. The launch of this visa will be welcome news for many employers, who are now able to access a wider skilled labour market without the need for a sponsorship licence and the associated costs.

In order to qualify for this route, the individual must hold a Student visa at the time of application and have completed their degree at a recognised Higher Education Provider with a clear track record of compliance. Interested students should note that the route does not automatically activate at the expiry of their existing Student visa, and will instead need to apply for a fresh visa. Fees for the Graduate route currently stand at £700, plus the additional Immigration Health Surcharge.

Individuals on this route will not be able to extend their visa, nor will it count towards their continuous period in the UK for settlement purposes. They can however switch to the Skilled Worker visa in the event that they secure suitable employment with a licenced sponsor.

The Home Office has introduced visa concessions for Students who have been unable to travel to the UK, and are instead studying remotely, in light of the recent international travel disruption. Students on courses commencing in Autumn 2020 or Spring 2021 will still be eligible for the Graduate route provided that they travel to the UK by 27 September 2021; the same concession applies for students beginning courses in late 2021 or early 2022 that travel to the UK by 6 April 2022.


This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.


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