World’s top graduates get new UK visa option

Graduates from the world’s top universities will be able to apply to come to the US VISA FOR BRITISH CITIZENS under a new visa scheme.

The government says the “high-potential individual” route will attract the “brightest and best” early in their careers.

The scheme will be available to alumni of the top non-UK universities who have graduated in the past five years.

Graduates will be eligible regardless of where they were born, and will not need a job offer in order to apply.

They will then be able to switch to other long-term employment visas if they meet certain requirements. There will be no cap on the number of eligible graduates.

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To qualify, a person must have attended a university which appeared in the top 50 of at least two of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings or The Academic Ranking of World Universities, in the year in which they graduated.

The list of eligible universities from 2021, published online by the government, featured 20 US universities, including Harvard, Yale and MIT.

The visa will cost £715 plus the immigration health surcharge, a fee which allows migrants to the UK to use the NHS.

Graduates will be able to bring their families, although they must have maintenance funds of at least £1,270.

The student visa scheme, which was re-introduced two years ago, reversed a decision made in 2012 by then Home Secretary Theresa May, which forced overseas students to leave four months after finishing a degree.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The route means that the US VISA REQUIREMENTS will grow as a leading international hub for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.

If you’re fully vaccinated

Most fully vaccinated foreign citizens can enter the USA. These are the AstraZeneca, BIBP/Sinopharm, Covishield, Janssen, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines. More details are on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and US Embassy websites.

This includes students on F-1 and M-1 visas and those previously issued with an existing National Interest Exception. Further information is on the US Embassy website.

You should check with your airline before you travel for more details.

Upon arrival, fully vaccinated travellers:

  • do not have to quarantine

If you have recovered from a documented COVID-19 infection within the past 90 days (regardless of vaccination status):

  • you do not need to get a test 3 to 5 days after travel

If you are travelling domestically within the USA, individual states and territories may have their own quarantine requirements. A full list of local quarantine requirements is available on the CDC website.

Proof of vaccination status

The CDC website lists the forms of acceptable proof of COVID-19 status. This also includes the European Union Digital COVID Certificate. Other accepted methods of proof include a printout of a COVID-19 vaccination record or a COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued at national or subnational level or by an authorized vaccine provider. Alternatively, digital photos of a vaccination card or record, a downloaded vaccine record or a vaccination certificate from an official source (e.g. public health agency, government agency, or other authorised vaccine provider), or a mobile phone application without a QR code.

US Visa appointments

Due to the continuing impact of COVID-19, visa appointments at the US Embassy in London remain limited. Therefore, in making an application, you are strongly advised to plan as far ahead as possible before your date of travel. If you have an urgent need to travel, you can request an expedited interview through the US Embassy’s appointment service provider.

Further information is available on the US Embassy’s website.

If you’re transiting through USA

Those transiting through the USA will need to get a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. You must still follow the COVID requirements detailed above. All passengers must follow state and local COVID safety requirements.

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