The UK Home Office has updated its Tier 4 Guidance earlier in the month of June to inform students when they will be eligible to apply under the Graduate route (also known as a post-study work visa) in 2021 in case they have undertaken some of their studies by distance or blended learning, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Considering the current coronavirus circumstances, students who had to continue or commence their studies on an online basis will still be eligible for the Graduate route if they enter the UK before 6 April 2021 and complete their final semester of studies here. This is vital when it comes to attracting new international students to UK universities.
“If students are required to either continue their current studies or commence a new course by distance or blended learning due to Covid-19, they will still be eligible to switch into the Graduate route on a concessionary basis if they spent some time studying outside the UK,” reads the statement.
The guidance also highlights that the Graduate route is still set to launch in the summer of 2021 and that students would normally be required to take their studies in the UK to be able to access the Graduate route. However, due to the current circumstances, students commencing studies online have until 6 April 2021 to enter the UK, in order to be eligible for the route.
A large number of international students, current or potential, have admitted in our survey that their plans have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in one way or another. This is due to numerous reasons, which come as a result of the pandemic, including financial difficulties, closures of visa application centres, test centres, as well as travel restrictions worldwide.
Although many might have been discouraged by the obstacles, the new Graduate route proves a good reason for international students to still enrol in degree programmes in the UK this year, regardless if they will be offered on an online basis or not. This is with the prerequisite that these students enter the UK before April 6, 2021, and finish their final semester of studies here.
Essentially, international students who enter the UK in the 2020/2021 academic year will also be eligible to apply for the Graduate route. Those who have a Tier 4 visa when the route is launched (summer 2021) may also be able to apply. Students whose visa expires before the new graduate route is launched will not be eligible to access the Graduate route.
“Such students will still need to have extant leave as a Tier 4 student or Student when the new route launches in 2021 and meet other eligibility criteria to be eligible for the route,” the statement concludes.
Universities, this year, will be able to attract new students for the 2020/2021 academic year and inform them that they will be able to benefit from the route. This route will require students to submit a new application, pay a visa fee, as well as the Immigration Health Surcharge. The fee amount is yet to be announced.