Clarity on post study work visas for international students

Last year the UK government announced the introduction of the Post Study Work Visa often referred to as the Graduate Route Visa. This new visa will allow international students who begin their postgraduate or undergraduate degree courses in the UK from the academic year 2020/21 to remain in the UK to work for up to two years after they finish their studies.

However, the Coronavirus pandemic raised a number of issues around how this would work for students who are unable to travel to the UK to study. Ordinarily students who study their degrees online would not be eligible for the Post Study Work Visa. But many UK universities will be delivering their courses online next term and many international students will begin their studies from their home countries.

Finally, this week, some clarity on this issue has begun to emerge with the publication of new guidance.

This latest Guidance issued on 16th June states that where:

"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."

It also states that:

"Students will benefit from this concession if they enter the UK before 6 April 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK".

There are clearly some details yet to be ironed out. In particular, it is not clear what would happen to a one-year master's student if travel restrictions are still in force next year or campuses are forced to reclose due to a 'second wave' of infections.

We should also point out that this latest government guidance (around Tier 4 visas and Covid-19 concessions) is the 6th version to be published since the outbreak and we expect further clarifications to be published over the coming weeks.

However, this at least provides some reassurance to students who are still contemplating whether to accept their places at UK universities this coming September or defer their entry until they can be sure that they can travel to the UK and begin their studies face-to-face.

Credits: image by Marten Bjork

Rachel Burgon
Co-Founder & CEO
Published on 17 June 2020