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All you need to know about GIR - Graduate Immigration Route ( Post Study Work Visa)

Saumya Singh      June 21, 2023

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Foreign students no longer have to immediately return to their home countries after finishing their studies in the United Kingdom. International students can stay in the United Kingdom for an additional two years after graduation because to the Graduate Immigration Route (GIR), which was established by the British government in 2019. Any international student who earns a British diploma in 2021 or later will be entitled to take this path. 

As a result of this policy shift, many people are wondering how it will affect overseas students who want to attend university in the United Kingdom. 

So, what do we know about the new post-study visa in the UK?

According to the Gov. UK Home Office blog, international students with a valid Tier 4 UK student visa at the time of application will have access to a new pathway to a career in the UK denoted as the "Graduate Immigration Route."

The entry deadline for Graduate path applicants who began their studies in Autumn 2020 has been extended to 21 June 2021 (from 6 April 2021). Those who started their programme in January or February 2021 must be in the UK by September 27 of that year.? The main criteria for the path, including the application process, have been given out by the UK Council for International Student Affairs. The Immigration Health Surcharge is in addition to the application fee. They will also have to pass a background check and security screening.

In October 2004, GIR introduced the Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme (SEGS). Under this programme, students who completed their degrees in the United Kingdom were given the opportunity to stay and work in that country for a year after graduation. The SEGS was expanded in May 2006 to accommodate the increasing number of advanced degree programmes that were being offered at that time.

As of May 1, 2007, SEGS was superseded by the International Graduates Scheme (IGS). Graduates are now allowed to work or start a business in the UK for a full year without needing a Work Permit. On June 30, 2008, it was superseded by the Post Study Work tier system, which divided workers into five categories with varying work authorization. 

On April 12, 2012, the "far too generous" Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa programme was terminated. After that, students have only four to six months to find employment in the UK before being deported. 

It was announced in 2019 that students might apply for a two-year stay permit after graduation under the Graduate Immigration Route. 

What are the GIR rules comprised of? 

Candidates who are accepted will have two years after they graduate to remain in the country, look for work, or both. During this time, people are capable of performing work at any level.

They should be able to apply for a visa or permission that will allow them to stay for a longer period of time once they have secured the employment they desire. The United Kingdom hopes to keep these skilled workers after they graduate.

There is a delay in launching the Graduate Immigration Path until the summer of 2021. GIR will be available to all international students who graduate from a UK university beginning in 2021. 

There will be an immigration form, a visa cost, and a health surcharge associated with GIR.

Applicants for the GIR are not required to have a sponsor. Students who choose the GIR route do not require a Tier 4 sponsor, but the sponsor is still accountable for them throughout their time in school.

What are the requirements to participate in the GIR?

Students from outside the EU who have graduated from a higher education institution in the UK will be eligible for GIR. This organisation should have a history of doing the right thing. 

Tier 4 visas are required for students to apply. 

Ineligible for the GIR are students who graduate before the year 2021. The government of the United Kingdom believes that more time is required to implement this pathway, so these pupils did not have unrealistic expectations. 

Let's get into the requirements for participation in GIR: 

Graduate visa applicants must meet the following requirements:

Maintain a valid Tier 4/Student visa however, the Graduate path is not available for all UK programmes due to restrictions on which programmes can sponsor international students. Most courses taught part-time and funded through the visitor route fall into this category. Doctorate recipients who have been granted more time to complete their degree are ineligible for the Graduate visa.

Possess a diploma they earned after studying for it, once a student has received their final grades and their academic record has been updated to reflect completion, they are eligible to apply for the Graduate visa. Students are not required to have witnessed a formal commencement exercise. PhD candidates are considered finished upon submission of their bound thesis and receiving unconditional approval.

Tier 4/Student visa recipients must have graduated from the programme for which their visa was originally issued unless doing so is permitted by the terms of their visa. Tier 4/Student visa holders who finish the first three years of a four-year Integrated Masters programme but do not wish to continue to the fourth year are entitled to apply for the Graduate visa.

Students can apply for the Graduate visa once their student records have been updated to reflect completion and they have received an email from the International Student Office confirming that the office has informed UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) of the student's successful completion. 

Students who are enrolled in a Master's programme and have not yet completed all required assessment (i.e. final submission or exam) by the original end date in their CAS should contact the International Student Office to determine if they are still eligible for the Graduate visa, which may depend on whether or not final results will be received before the expiration of their current visa.

Tier 4/Student visa holders who have spent at least a certain amount of time studying in the UK. Graduate visa applicants must show that they will be enrolled in school for 12 months, or the entirety of their programme, whichever is shorter. The minimal time can include official vacation time, weekends, and approved study abroad activities (i.e., activities conducted overseas as part of a programme).

Multiple Tier 4/Student visas for the same academic programme at the University are permissible if the minimum time required to complete the programme is exceeded. Unless the student will have studied for the minimum required time as mentioned above on the most recent Tier 4/Student visa, the student will not be eligible for a Graduate visa if they move to a student visa from another immigration category during their course. Students who are changing immigration categories in order to begin their studies at Cambridge may count the time during which their application is being processed as part of the required minimum study period.

If you are receiving funding from a government or foreign scholarship organisation, please provide a letter of authorization.

A letter of consent from the sponsoring organisation is required if the student has received a scholarship or sponsorship from a government or international scholarship agency covering fees and living costs for study in the UK within the previous 12 months.

What will be the impact of GIR on international students?

Introducing GIR was a strategy that was aimed at increasing the total number of international students studying in the UK. While the current level of such students was 460,000 (2019-20), this move aims to increase this number to 600,000 each year by 2030.

Outside the European Union, maximum international applicants are from China and India. Since these students invest a lot of money in their overseas education, the post-study work option is crucial for them. The cost of higher studies for Indian students in the UK is up to GBP 38,000, which is equivalent to 36 lac Indian Rupees. Add to this the living costs and other miscellaneous costs, and the cost to the student’s family exceeds 50 lac rupees. 

Since the starting salary for Indian students in the UK is likely to be five to ten times of what they are likely to earn in India (after converting the salaries), students would love to work in the UK before heading back as the salary earned would help them cover a major part of the cost spent on education and repay their education loans faster if they had taken any.

Prior to GIC, it had always been difficult for many students to find a job within four months, since many companies in the UK would prefer native employees too. But with this welcome change in post-study stay allowance, more and more students - especially from India - would shift their attention to studying in the UK. The result would be a win-win situation for both India as well as the UK - as the former would be endowed with better career options and higher financial returns, while the latter would have more quality graduates contributing to their country’s economy and credibility.

Benefits of the GIR

The GIR offers several benefits, including the ability to work in the UK for up to 2 years after completing a degree, the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and the potential for long-term settlement in the UK. Let's discuss these benefits in more detail:

  1. Post-Study Work Visa: The primary benefit of the GIR is the opportunity for international students to work in the UK after completing their studies. Under the GIR, graduates are eligible for a visa that allows them to stay and work in the UK for a period of two years (or three years for doctoral students). This post-study work visa provides a valuable opportunity to gain practical work experience in the UK job market.
  2. Work Experience: The GIR allows international students to gain valuable work experience in the UK, which can significantly enhance their career prospects. Working in the UK offers exposure to different industries, companies, and work cultures, helping graduates develop new skills and expand their professional networks. This experience can be a valuable addition to their resume and make them more competitive in the global job market.
  3. Job Opportunities: The UK is home to numerous globally recognized universities and a vibrant job market. By studying in the UK and taking advantage of the GIR, international students have access to a wide range of job opportunities across various sectors. The UK has a strong presence in sectors such as finance, technology, engineering, creative industries, healthcare, and more. The GIR enables graduates to explore these job opportunities and potentially secure employment with leading UK companies.
  4. Long-Term Settlement: The GIR also provides a potential pathway for long-term settlement in the UK. After completing the two-year post-study work period, graduates may be eligible to switch to other visa categories, such as the Skilled Worker Visa, which allows individuals to work in the UK and potentially settle permanently. This can be particularly beneficial for graduates who wish to build a long-term career or establish roots in the UK.
  5. Cultural Exchange and Networking: Studying and working in the UK offers international students the opportunity to engage with diverse cultures, perspectives, and ideas. This exposure not only enriches their personal and professional lives but also enables them to develop a global mindset and build a strong international network. Such connections can be valuable throughout their careers, fostering collaborations and opening doors to future opportunities.

When can students apply? 

Students should only make their application once the University has notified UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that they have successfully completed their degree. This is in accordance with the Graduate route visa policy.  The International Student Office will make this report to UKVI after students have received their final results and their University record has been updated to reflect completion. Please note it can take several weeks after students have received their results for their University record to be updated. 

The International Student Office will confirm to students when the report has been made to UKVI and students will receive this by email to the email address on their student record. Do not submit their Graduate visa application until students have received this email.

Students will need to apply in the UK whilst their current Tier 4/Student visa is still valid and cannot travel overseas until students have received the outcome of their application, and their new BRP if applicable (see section below titled eVisa).

If their visa expires after students have applied to the Graduate route, students will be permitted to remain in the UK whilst their application is being considered under the conditions of their Tier 4/Student permission until students have received the outcome of their Graduate visa application. 

Where can I apply? 

Students make an application online. ( The link is attached for the same, however for more clarity, please connect with our study abroad partners today! ) 

As part of the process students will need to prove students identity by using a ‘UK Immigration ID Check’ app on students phone to scan students current Tier 4/Student Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). students will be given instructions on how to use the app in the application.

It is free and compatible with Android phones and iPhone 7 or newer models. If students do not own a compatible phone, students can use the app from a friend’s mobile phone as no information is stored on the phone or app after students close it.

If students cannot use the app, students will need to book an in-person appointment for biometric enrolment. This includes students who applied for their current student visa in the UK and it was issued as a digital status with no BRP 

As part of the application:

  • Students will need students passport and current Tier4/Student BRP to apply.
  • Students will need to know the CAS number students used to support students Tier 4/student visa application. This will be included in the email notification sent to students once the successful completion of students degree has been reported to UKVI. 
  • Students will need a letter of consent if students have been financially sponsored for students studies by a Government or international scholarship agency.
  • There will be no requirement to provide financial evidence with the application.

The advertised decision timeframe is 8 weeks from when students submit their application.

Please note that once students have made student application, students cannot travel overseas until students have been notified of the decision

What is the application cost? 

The visa application fee is £715. In addition, the application will also require students to pay the immigration health surcharge and this is charged at £624 per year the visa will be granted (£1,248 for 2 years and, for PhD students, £1872 for 3 years).

What’s an eVisa?

When granted, the visa will be issued as a digital status, also called an eVisa.

The digital status will enable students to prove students right to live and work in the UK online.

Visa nationals (i.e. nationalities who require entry clearance prior to travel to the UK as a visitor) will also be issued a new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). 

It is likely this will need to be shown in order to travel to the UK whilst students Graduate visa is valid. Visa nationals are therefore advised to wait to receive the new BRP once the visa has been granted before travelling overseas.

If students cannot use the app as part of the application, and need to enrol students biometrics at an in-person appointment, students will also be issued a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

When students set up students UKVI account to apply for this visa students will use students BRP to verify students identity, unless students are an EEA or Swiss national. UKVI advises that once students have received students eVisa, students should sign back into students UKVI account using the information on students BRP but then change the main ‘sign-in’ document to students current passport. This is to ensure students can continue to access students UKVI account easily and should also ensure that students avoid unnecessary delays when travelling in and out of the UK. If students renew students passport, students should sign in and update these details in students UKVI account.

Challenges and limitations of GIR 

While the Graduate Immigration Route (GIR) offers several benefits to international students in the UK, it is important to acknowledge the challenges and limitations that applicants may encounter. Let's discuss some of these challenges:

  1. Employment Opportunities: While the GIR provides an opportunity for international graduates to work in the UK, finding suitable employment can still be challenging. The job market can be competitive, and securing a job that aligns with one's skills, qualifications, and career goals may take time and effort. It is essential for graduates to actively search for job opportunities, network, and showcase their skills to potential employers.
  2. English Language Requirements: The GIR requires applicants to meet certain English language proficiency standards. International students must demonstrate their English language skills by taking an approved English language test, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Meeting the required language standards can be a challenge for some students, especially if English is not their first language. Preparing for these tests and achieving the necessary scores may require additional time, effort, and resources.
  3. Financial Burden: The visa application process, including the GIR, often involves various fees, including visa application fees, healthcare surcharges, and other associated costs. These expenses can add up and pose a financial burden on international students. Additionally, while the post-study work period allows graduates to work in the UK, it is important to consider the financial implications of living expenses, accommodation, and potentially supporting oneself during this period, especially if employment is not secured immediately.
  4. Changing Immigration Policies: Immigration policies and regulations can change over time, which can impact the eligibility criteria and requirements of the GIR. It is crucial for students to stay informed about any updates or changes in immigration rules to ensure compliance and avoid any unexpected challenges or limitations
  5. Time Limitations: The GIR allows graduates to work in the UK for up to two years (or three years for doctoral students) after completing their studies. While this provides a valuable opportunity to gain work experience, it is a limited time frame. Graduates must carefully plan and utilize this period to secure employment, gain relevant experience, and potentially explore other visa options if they wish to continue living and working in the UK beyond the GIR duration.
  6. Dependence on Individual Circumstances: The success and outcomes of the GIR can vary depending on individual circumstances. Factors such as academic qualifications, work experience, industry demand, networking skills, and personal circumstances can influence the ability to secure employment and make the most of the GIR. It is important for graduates to be proactive, adaptable, and persistent in their job search efforts.


Ques1. Who is this route for?

Ans - The route will be open to international students who entered the UK in the academic year 2020/21 onwards and have completed a degree at the undergraduate level or above at reputable higher education institutions.

Ques 2. How can I apply?

Ans - The graduate immigration route will require a new application. It will include the payment of a visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The exact fee will be set out in due course.

Ques 3. When will this route be applicable?

Ans - The new route will be applicable from the summer of 2021.

Ques 4. I am already studying in the UK. Do I qualify for this route?

Ans - Any student who successfully completes their degree-level course at a qualifying institution in the summer of 2021 or after will be eligible. This includes students who are already studying. Those whose Tier 4 leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible for it.

Ques 5. Does this program count toward settlement?

Ans - The route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement. However, graduates who find an appropriate job and meet the requirements will be able to switch to skilled work, which is a route to settlement.

Please note - 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 or caps on numbers. Graduates on the route will be able to work flexibly, switch jobs, and develop their careers as required.

Zoom Abroad, as the leading international education platform also assists students with UK student visa services. We have a team of highly experienced advisors who will make sure that every UK student visa requirement is fulfilled and verified. We also prepare students for student visa interviews by conducting a series of mock interviews. At Zoom Abroad, students can create their personal profiles and get matched with the best-fit UK university. Sign up and get matched with their dream university and know more about studying, living and scholarships in the UK.

Saumya Singh
Saumya Singh

Content Writer

Saumya is an enthusiastic reader with a keen inclination toward literature, academics, and marketing. Ideas, strategy, and impact are what keep her belief in marketing intact. Oh, and playing with content is her hobby.

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