The Home Office have issued a new visa, namely the Graduate Visa. The Graduate Immigration Route is intended for international students who have completed a degree course or other higher educational qualification and it allows students to work in the UK once they have completed their degree / qualification. Importantly, the job can be at any skill-level or salary and the Graduate Visa is valid for a period of 2 years (or 3 years if the student has completed a PhD / Doctorate). Unlike the T2 Skilled Worker route, there is no requirement for the student to have a sponsor and dependents, namely a spouse and / or children under the age of 18 can also apply to remain in the UK in-line with the main applicant.
There are Home Office fees which are payable for this visa along with payment of the UK’s NHS health surcharge (contribution towards the UK’s National Health Service).
It is not possible to extend the Graduate Visa beyond the 2 or 3 year period referred to above and unfortunately, this route also does not lead to permanent residency in the UK. However, it is quite possible that the student will be able to secure a position with an employer who may wish to continue employing them beyond the Graduate Visa through sponsorship as a T2 Skilled Worker. This will require the employer to be in possession of a Home Office Sponsor Licence and the position itself will need to meet all of the relevant Home Office Rules including being a position contained on the Home Office list of acceptable positions and the salary payable for the position must also meet the Home Office criteria.
Many years ago, the Home Office did operate the Tier 1 (Post-study Work) visa scheme but this was subsequently abolished. Arguably, the UK Graduate visa is a return of the old scheme but with a new name. It is however, a welcome addition to the UK’s visa routes which are currently quite restricted.