UKIBC welcomes opening of new UK Graduate Immigration Route

By Kealan Finnegan

The UK's new Graduate Immigration Route is open for applications as of today, 1st July 2021! Students on the Graduate route will be able to work or look for work after their studies for a maximum period of 2 years, or 3 years for Doctoral students, representing a new pathway for Indian students to come to study and work in the UK.

The UKIBC have consistently advocated for this extension through events and submissions to the UK Government in recent years. Indian businesses have consistently highlighted to us the need for improved access to working visas for Indian nationals – including students – as a key barrier to UK-India trade and investment, and we are pleased to have helped channel these points, most recently at an Immigration Roundtable connecting Indian businesses with Senior Home Office officials at JETCO in July 2019. The positive policy change was then announced in September 2019.

Our JETCO submission built on evidence we submitted to the UK Parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on International Students in 2018 advocating for today’s reform so as to support the broad UK-India relationship and help deliver the UK’s Industrial Strategy.

We were delighted that the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Global Britain Inquiry also took onboard our call for a two-year visa period, making this an explicit recommendation in their report ‘Building Bridges: Reawakening UK-India ties’, which recognises the challenge that the existing period posed to the FCO’s ‘Global Britain’ strategy.

The number of India students choosing to study in the UK had declined since 2011 when the post-study work visa was reduced from 2 years to 6 months from around 39,000 to a low of 16,550 in 2016-17. Thankfully, in recent years there have been improvements, linked to the announcement of the new Graduate Immigration Route in September 2019. More than 53,000 Indian students came to the UK to study last year, up 42% on the previous year, and representing nearly a quarter of all international students in the UK.

Not only does this recent announcement improve the competitiveness of the UK’s education offer on the world-stage, but rightly encourages many of the best Indian graduates of UK universities to retain their talent within the UK.

Building on the GIR, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar recently (4th May 2021) signed the ‘Migration and Mobility Partnership’, which aims to make it easier for British and Indian nationals to live and work in each other’s countries, whilst also enhancing cooperation on combatting immigration crime and fraud. The people that connect our two countries is also one of five pillars of the new UK-India 2030 Roadmap.

The GIR gives new graduates opportunity to gain work experience after their degree, improving soft-skills and addressing the challenges students face obtaining well-paid jobs straight out of university.

Importantly, the extension also sends a message that the UK is open to India’s immense talent.

Having more ambitious and talented international students attend UK universities enables us to forge greater, mutual higher education partnerships and business relations.

UKIBC look forward to continued work with our members to promote this. For further information on our work in the Higher Education and Immigration sectors, please contact our UKIBC expert, Tara Panjwani, at

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