The UK government has confirmed the new graduate route will open for applications on July 1, 2021, to international students who successfully complete a degree at undergraduate level or above in the UK. International students on the Graduate route will be able to work or look for work after their studies for a maximum period of 2 years (3 years for PhD students). This will allow the UK to retain the brightest and the best students to continue to contribute to the UK post-study.
Coronavirus concessions for students unable to travel to the UK due to coronavirus have also been extended, recognising the continuing disruption many face in international travel. Applicants who began their studies in autumn 2020 will now have to have been in the UK by 21 June 2021 (updated from 6 April 2021) to be eligible to apply to the Graduate route. Students who began their studies in January or February 2021 will need to be in the UK by 27 September 2021.
Nigeria is one of the main countries sending students to the UK, and numbers have increased in recent years. According to the most recent statistics, in 2020 over 13,000 students from Nigeria were granted a UK study visa – a massive 56% increase on the year before.
According to the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster, “As we rebuild from the impact of the global pandemic we want the world’s brightest talents to see the UK as the natural home for their aspirations.The launch of this new route will ensure those who graduate from our world leading institutions will easily be able to secure the status they deserve to continue living and working as they make our United Kingdom their home.”
In his submission, Catriona Laing CB, British High Commissioner to Nigeria said, “In 2020, over 13,000 Nigerian students were granted a UK study visa to continue their academic journey. This is a testament to the strengthening educational relationship between the UK and Nigeria.”
The envoy stated that the UK government Hope’s that the launch of this new post-study work route will provide an exciting opportunity for Nigerian students to build their careers, and discover new opportunities that the UK has to offer.”
The graduate route will be unsponsored, meaning applicants will not need a job offer to apply for the route. There will be no minimum salary requirements nor caps on numbers – Graduates on the route will be able to work flexibly, switch jobs and develop their career as required.
To be eligible, international students must have completed a UK degree at bachelor’s degree-level or above, or an eligible professional qualification at a higher education provider, with a track record of compliance with the UK Government’s immigration requirements.
The new graduate route will help the UK government to achieve the ambition set out in the international education strategy to increase the number of international students in higher education in the UK to 600,000 by 2023.