Recruiting international students who have immigration permission under the Graduate route can be an attractive initial step for employers. This is especially so if they are reluctant to incur the costs of sponsorship initially. Here, we take a closer look at this flexible route.
There is no doubt that the costs involved in sponsoring migrant workers are exceptionally high. Many employers are reluctant to incur them until the employee has a proven track record of work.
The Graduate route is a fantastic alternative to sponsorship. It is designed for international students who have successfully completed a degree, or other relevant qualification, from an approved UK higher education provider.
What makes the route so attractive to many employers seeking to benefit from the enormous talent international graduates can bring to a business is the fact that sponsorship is not needed. The visa also lasts for two years, or three if the student studied a PhD, therefore allowing plenty of time for both parties to develop the working relationship.
Other than being unable to work as a professional sports person or coach (as defined in the Immigration Rules), there are no restrictions on the type of work that can be performed and no requirements relating to skill level and salary. Those on the route can also work on a self-employed basis.
To apply, the applicant must have obtained:
- an Undergraduate degree;
- a Master’s degree;
- a PhD or other doctoral qualification; or
- one of the other qualifications listed in Appendix Graduate.
This must normally have been gained during their current period of permission under the Student route, or its Tier 4 predecessor.
Successful completion of the course is a requirement – the route is not open to students who did not finish their studies.
There is no maintenance requirement and no English language requirement (this will already have been demonstrated during the student visa application process).
No involvement from either the employer or the education provider is needed other than the latter must report the student’s eligibility for the route to the Home Office once the grades have been finalised and the student has successfully completed their course. In our experience, education providers are usually very efficient at doing this to help ensure their students can find employment.
The application can only be made from inside the UK.
At the time of writing, applicants are required to pay:
- an application fee of £715; and
- the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS).
Switching into sponsorship
Employers can offer to sponsor individuals who hold a Graduate route visa at any time – they do not need to wait until the visa is due to expire. The Graduate route does not lead to settlement in the UK. Therefore, if the employer wishes to retain the individual, offering to sponsor them may be an attractive proposition.
Obtaining a sponsor licence can take several weeks once the sponsor licence application has been filed so we would recommend that applications are filed as early as possible. An application can be submitted before a final decision has been made on the sponsorship of an individual.
Business immigration services: How can we help
Our team of solicitors is experienced in all aspects of the sponsor licence system. If you require legal advice on a sponsor licence application or any other aspect of business immigration law, we would be happy to help. Please contact us or use the enquiry form below.