Rishi Sunak’s UK Graduation Route Visa and Its Impact on Indians

Rishi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister, has introduced a significant change in the immigration policy with the UK Graduation Route Visa. This new visa category aims to attract and retain international talent, particularly targeting Indian students who form the largest group of international students in the UK. Let’s delve into the details of this visa, its implications for Indian students, and its broader impact on UK-India relations.

Understanding the UK Graduation Route Visa

The UK Graduation Route Visa, also known as the Post-Study Work (PSW) Visa, is designed to allow international students who have completed a degree at a recognized UK higher education institution to stay in the UK for two years post-graduation. For doctoral graduates, this period extends to three years. The primary objective of this visa is to provide graduates with the opportunity to work, or look for work, in any sector at any skill level.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for the UK Graduation Route Visa, applicants must:

  1. Have completed a degree: The degree must be at the undergraduate level or higher from a UK higher education provider with a track record of compliance.
  2. Hold a valid student visa: The student visa must be valid at the time of application for the Graduation Route.
  3. Apply from within the UK: Applicants must be physically present in the UK to apply for this visa.

Application Process

The application process for the UK Graduation Route Visa is streamlined and straightforward:

  1. Online Application: Graduates must fill out an online application form available on the UK government website.
  2. Biometric Information: Applicants are required to provide biometric information, including fingerprints and a photograph.
  3. Application Fee: A fee is applicable for the visa, which must be paid at the time of application.
  4. Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS): Applicants must pay the IHS, which grants access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) during their stay.

Impact on Indian Students

Indian students have been the largest beneficiary group of the UK’s international education policies. With the introduction of the UK Graduation Route Visa, the impact on Indian students is multifaceted.

Enhanced Career Opportunities

The primary advantage of this visa is the extension of stay for Indian graduates, allowing them to gain valuable work experience in the UK. This period can be pivotal for:

  • Career Advancement: Graduates can work in their field of study, enhancing their resumes with international work experience.
  • Professional Networking: Building connections within the UK industry can open doors to long-term career opportunities.
  • Skill Development: Exposure to the UK’s work environment helps in acquiring new skills and professional competencies.

Attractiveness of UK Education

The promise of post-study work opportunities significantly boosts the attractiveness of UK education among Indian students. The ability to stay and work in the UK for two to three years post-graduation is a compelling incentive, making the UK a preferred destination over other countries with more restrictive post-study work policies.

Financial Considerations

While the UK Graduation Route Visa does come with application fees and the IHS, the potential for earning in the UK job market can offset these costs. Moreover, gaining work experience in the UK can lead to better job prospects and higher salaries upon return to India or continuation within the UK.

Broader Impact on UK-India Relations

The introduction of the UK Graduation Route Visa is also a strategic move to strengthen UK-India ties. It aligns with broader geopolitical and economic goals.

Strengthening Educational Ties

The visa policy is likely to lead to an increase in the number of Indian students opting for UK education. This, in turn, strengthens educational ties between the two nations, fostering a deeper mutual understanding and collaboration in academic and research fields.

Economic Contributions

International students contribute significantly to the UK economy through tuition fees, living expenses, and now through their participation in the workforce. Indian graduates, in particular, are known for their high academic achievements and entrepreneurial spirit, contributing to the innovation and economic growth of the UK.

Cultural Exchange

The presence of Indian students and graduates enriches the cultural fabric of the UK. They bring diverse perspectives and cultural richness, promoting a multicultural and inclusive society. This cultural exchange benefits both countries, fostering goodwill and stronger bilateral relations.

Challenges and Considerations

While the UK Graduation Route Visa offers numerous benefits, there are challenges and considerations to be mindful of.

Job Market Competition

Indian graduates may face stiff competition in the UK job market. While the visa allows work in any sector, finding a job that aligns with their qualifications and career aspirations can be challenging.

Visa Extensions and Long-Term Plans

After the two to three-year period, graduates must look into other visa options if they wish to continue living and working in the UK. This could include skilled worker visas, which require sponsorship from an employer, or other relevant immigration routes.

Adapting to UK Work Culture

Adapting to the UK work culture and understanding its nuances is essential for Indian graduates. This includes communication styles, workplace etiquette, and professional expectations, which can differ significantly from those in India.


The UK Graduation Route Visa introduced by Rishi Sunak represents a significant opportunity for Indian students, enhancing their career prospects and making UK education more attractive. This policy not only benefits the students but also strengthens the economic, educational, and cultural ties between the UK and India. While challenges exist, the overall impact of this visa is poised to be positive, paving the way for a more inclusive and dynamic global workforce.

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