Within its latest immigration update, the UK government has confirmed that the dependants of postgraduate Tier 4 international students who get a post-study work visa from 2021 will “have near full access to the UK labour market and can work at any skill level”.
In a statement that provides further details on the government’s plans for a new UK points-based immigration system, the Home Office unveiled more details around the graduate route due to launch next year.
“The graduate route will be launched in summer 2021 to provide international students the opportunity to stay in the UK to work or look for work after they graduate,” the statement explained.
“Undergraduate and master’s degree students will be able to stay for two years under the route, whilst PhD students will be able to stay for three years.”
It also explained that graduates “will be able to switch into other routes in line with the wider approach to switching when applying for leave inside the UK”, including the ability to switch into work routes if they are able to meet the requirements.
“The graduate route will also increase the attractiveness of the UK’s offer to international students, ensuring we remain internationally competitive and assist in our ambition to increase the number of international students in higher education as set out in the International Education Strategy,” the Home Office statement continued.
Regarding dependants, the Home Office statement explained that students will be able to bring dependants “if studying at postgraduate level for at least nine months at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance, or if government-sponsored to study a course longer than six months”.
“Skilled workers and postgraduate students will continue to have the right to bring dependants,” it read, highlighting that a dependant’s application must be linked to that of the main applicant.
“In general dependants have near full access to the UK labour market and can work at any skill level.”
The statement also revealed that it will be extending the period of time in which a student can apply for permission to come to the UK before the start of their course, from three to six months.
“We will also be removing the study time limit for students studying at a postgraduate level, although students will still be expected to be progressing academically in their studies when making a further application in the UK,” it noted.