The UK Government have announced a new visa which will allow international graduates to stay in the UK to work upon completion of your studies. The full details have not been released but this confirms what we know so far. 


When will this scheme be launched?

The GWR is due to be launched in Summer 2021. The exact date is still to be confirmed. Any student graduating after the scheme launches will be able to apply.

How long is the visa for?

If you have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate Masters degree you can apply for a 2 year GWR visa. If you have completed a PhD you can apply for a 3 year GWR visa. 

Who is eligible?

You must:

  • successfully be awarded your degree after the scheme launches
  • have studied in the UK on a Tier 4 / student route visa
  • have a valid Tier 4 / student route visa at the time you are applying
  • be making the GWR application from within the UK
  • have completed the entirety of your degree in the UK except for permitted study abroad programmes or when distance learning has been necessary due to Covid-19.

Students who are completing their course in summer 2021, including those who commenced a one-year Masters programme in September 2020, will only be eligible for the GWR if they enter the UK on or before 6 April 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK. 

I have dependants with me in the UK. Can they remain as my dependents under the GWR?

Yes. If you are on a Tier 4 / student route visa anyone already in the UK as your dependant will be able to apply to extend their visa in line with yours.

You cannot apply for the GWR visa and then bring dependants to the UK from your home country. They must already be in the UK as your dependants under Tier 4 / student route in order to be eligible. 

Do I need sponsorship from an employer under GWR?

No. This is an unsponsored route to allow you to work or look for work.

Is there any restriction on the type of work I can do?

In general, you will be able to do most types of work at any level (including self-employment). However, Graduates on this route will continue to be restricted from being employed as a professional sportsperson or as a doctor or dentist in training.

Can I do another course of study if I am on a GWR visa?

This visa is given to enable you to work in the UK. You are permitted to undertake 'supplementary' study but only at an institution that is not a Student Route Sponsor. If you want to do a proper course of study you will need to apply for a student visa.

Can I switch into other visas after my time on the GWR?

Graduates will be able to switch into other routes in line with the wider approach to switching when applying for a visa inside the UK. This will include the ability to switch into work routes if you are able to meet the requirements.

Due to COVID-19 my course is starting remotely. Will this prevent me from applying for the GWR visa?

No. As long as you apply for a Tier 4/ student route visa and come to the UK as soon as you are able to, and definitely before 6 April 2021, you will be able to apply for this visa if you meet the other eligibility requirements. This also applies to students completing their course in 2021: it is essential that you are back in the UK and completing your studies here before 6 April 2021.

Students who are studying courses lasting longer than a year in length, which are not due to be completed in 2021, and who have studied all or part of the 2020/21 academic year via distance learning will not have any period of distance learning during the 2020/21 academic year held against them in relation to a future application for the Graduate route.  

Job application questions

Job applications will ask questions such as

  • "Are you eligible to work in the UK?" or
  • "Do you have the right to work in the UK?"

You can answer YES to the above questions as once you have your GWR visa you can work and the visa is not connected to a specific job nor a specific employer.

  • "Do you need be sponsored to work in the UK?"

You can answer NO to the above question as you do not need sponsorship from an employer to work whilst you are on your GWR visa.


Further information