UK Graduate Work Visa Route for International Students

There is excellent news for everyone who is considering studying in the UK, as the government has announced Graduate Work Visa Route for international students.

Successful applicants on this route will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of two years. Beyond that, graduates who have found skilled jobs, and who qualify for skilled work visas, will be able to switch visas in order to continue their careers in the UK.

Graduate Work Visa Route

The UK Home Office has announced they will be introducing a 2 year Post-Study Work Visa known as the Graduate Work Visa for students who meet certain conditions.

What courses will be eligible for the Graduate Work Visa?

The Home Office has advised that a student must successfully complete a Bachelor Degree or above on or after the summer of 2021 to be eligible for the Graduate Work Visa.

Can I apply for the Graduate Work Visa if I studying an online course?

Unfortunately, courses that are studied online are not eligible for the Graduate Work Visa. The Home Office has said they will make an exception if a student had to study part of their course online (including streaming) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To benefit from this concession, you must enter the UK before 6 April 2021 and complete the final semester of your studies in the UK. You must also hold a Tier 4 Student visa which is still valid when you apply. Please note that online study for reasons unconnected to COVID-19 will not be considered by the Home Office.

Is it possible to apply for the Graduate Work Visa if my course finishes before
the summer of 2021?

Unfortunately, the Home Office has confirmed that this is not possible.

Will I have to make a new visa application for the Graduate Work Visa?

Yes, applicants will need to submit a new visa application from within the UK and pay a visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. Applicants must hold a valid Tier 4 Student visa when they make their application. Please note that like any visa application there is no guarantee that an application for a Graduate Work Visa will be successful. The application will be assessed by UK Visas and Immigration who will make the decision.

Can I apply for the Graduate Work Visa outside the UK?

No, you must be in the UK with a valid Tier 4 Student visa to make an application.

What will be the application process?

We are waiting for the Home Office to confirm the enrollment process.

How long will the Graduate Work Visa be issued for?

It shall be issued for up to 2 years and may not be extended.

What kind of work can I do on the Graduate Work Visa?

The Home Office has advised that visa holders will be able to work or seek work at any level and in any area. It is possible that some restrictions on the type of work a visa-holder can undertake will be included when the official guidance is published.

Will the Graduate Work Visa count towards Settlement in the UK?

No, the Home Office has confirmed that any time spent on the Graduate Work Visa will not count towards Settlement.

What are my options if I want to remain in the UK after my Graduate Work Visa ends?

You would need to apply for another visa that will allow you to remain in the UK. The Home Office should include which visa categories a Graduate Work Visa holder can switch into when they publish the official guidance.

When will the Home Office publish official guidance for the Graduate Work Visa?

The Home Office is aiming to publish this in spring 2021.

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New UK Student Route Visa

The UK government will implement a points-based immigration system from 2021 onwards for students applying for a the UK student visa, as announced by the Home Office in September. This new Student route replaces the Tier 4 (General) student visa on Oct 5, 2020.

Here’s the questions and answers for you to advise your prospective students;

How do I qualify for a UK student visa?

International applicants must obtain the 70 points necessary to obtain a visa to study at a university in the UK. They will get those points if they can demonstrate action below:


  • Been offered a place on a course
  • Capable of speaking, reading, writing and comprehending English
  • Sufficient funds to support themselves and their course fee

How do I score 70 points in my visa application?

  1. 1) 50 points will be awarded for the CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance Studies)
  2. 2) 10 points for meeting the financial requirements
  3. 3) 10 points for meeting the English language requirements

When should I apply for a UK student visa?

The earliest you can apply for a student visa is six months before you start your course when applying from outside the UK – up from the three-month window previously under Tier 4. You’ll usually get a decision on your visa within three weeks.

If you’re applying from within the UK, the earliest you can apply is three months before your course starts. Do note that you must apply before your current visa expires. Gov.uk notes that your new course must begin within 28 days of your current visa expiring; you can expect to get a decision within eight weeks.

When can I travel to the UK?

You can arrive in the UK up to one week before your course starts, if it lasts six months or less; and up to one month before, if your course lasts more than six months.

The financial requirement for living cost change;

  • £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London
  • £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London

How long can I stay in the UK?

How long you can stay depends on the length of your course and how much of it you’ve already completed. “If you’re 18 or over and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to five years. If it’s below degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to two years,” according to Gov.uk.

Can I extend my student visa?

You may be able to extend your visa if needed or if you’re eligible, such as if you want to continue your studies in the UK.

How much does the student visa cost?

International students can expect to fork out 348 pounds if you’re applying for a student visa from outside the UK, and 475 pounds to extend or switch to a student visa from within the UK.

Can I still work with this new student visa?

International students can study and work as a student union sabbatical officer, but Gov.uk adds that, “You may be able to work, but how much depends on what you’re studying and whether you’re working in or out of term-time.” They add, “If your application is successful, you’ll be told what you can and cannot do on a student visa.”

You can apply for Tier 4 visa six months ahead

Under the latest UKVI guidelines, students can apply for a study visa as soon as they gain admission into the university and confirm their UK travel. This is a welcome change to international students at this time of travel uncertainty. Previously, students could only apply for this visa closer to their course commencement.

As part of the measure, UKVI will issue visa vignettes for 90 days instead of the usual 30 days for the rest of 2020. This way, students benefit from more time and flexibility in the longer travel window.

You can start studies remotely without a visa

Next on the latest UK visa updates: those who are unable to travel to the UK due to restrictions can start their studies remotely without applying for a Tier 4 visa. You need only apply for a student visa when you are ready to travel to your university.

New highly-skilled visa route introduced

The Global Talent Scheme will welcome the most highly-skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer. Top scientists, researchers, and mathematicians will be given fast-tracked entry into the UK via this route, which is expected to roll out in late 2021. It replaces the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route and will see endorsements from the scientific and research community for the first time.

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UK expected to be the first western country to license a COVID-19 vaccine

vaccine program with BioNTech

Britain is expected to become the first western country to authorize a coronavirus vaccine, increasing the chances that vaccines will begin weeks ahead of the rest of Europe.

Meanwhile, the European regulator suggested on Tuesday that it might not take a decision before the end of December, making it unlikely that vaccination programs will be launched in Europe before 2021.

The United Kingdom could start vaccinations ahead of any other western country thanks to an internationally recognized body, the Regulatory Authority for Drugs and Health Products (MHRA).

A source in Whitehall said the UK would be “one step ahead”, saying that “MHRA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine will be a great time not only for the UK but for the world.”

MHRA has conducted an ongoing review of several vaccines over the past few months, including that of Pfizer/BioNTech, which presented its final data on November 23. According to a government source, the regulator was expected to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in a matter of days, even as early as Wednesday.

FAME International College - campus

“We have to be realistic and we have to accept that this vaccine is not here yet, no vaccine is here yet,” the prime minister said. “And whilst all the signs are promising, and almost every scientist I have talked to agrees that the breakthrough will surely come, we do not yet have one that has gained regulatory approval. We can’t be completely sure when the moment will arrive. And until then, we cannot afford to relax, especially during the cold months of winter.”

Europe has just started reviewing data from the final trials of the Pfizer vaccine. On Tuesday, the EMA announced that it had received definitive data from Pfizer and Moderna, the US company manufacturing a similar vaccine. Both reported 95% efficiency in Stage 3 trials.

The EMA said the assessments would be accelerated thanks to its own rolling review of the data from earlier trials and other information, with an opinion on authorisation coming potentially within weeks.

If the EMA gives the green light, the European Commission will look into the possibility of granting a conditional marketing authorisation in the coming days, which would mean that the vaccine is approved for use in all Member States.

Once transported from Belgium, where it is produced, MHRA and Public Health England will conduct “quality assurance tests” to verify that the conditions of transport have been complied with.

The UK regulatory body is also reviewing data from trials of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine, which found 62% efficacy in a large trial but 90% efficacy in a subset of volunteers under the age of 55. The UK has ordered 100m doses of the vaccine, which does not need to be stored in freezers and is believed to be the backbone of the immunization program.

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