In August, the Home Office confirmed their policy on the conditions of leave under the Graduate route, particularly for individuals interested in studying RIBA Part 3 to qualify as an architect.

The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA), with support from Bates Wells’ Immigration team who helped draft the letter, wrote to the Home Office before the summer to ask for clarification on their position for individuals on the graduate visa route who wish to study as architects. Bates Wells had been receiving a number of queries from clients in the architecture sector about studying in the UK whilst on the Graduate route. In particular, there were concerns for employers about individuals completing RIBA Part 3.

In response, the Home Office specified:

‘As a Post Graduate diploma, the Part 3 Architecture course would fit the definition of an acceptable course in paragraph ST 8.2(a) or (d) of Appendix Student, depending on whether the method of delivery is full or part time, and whether the sponsor is a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance. As the course is awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects it meets the approved qualification requirement as per ST 9.1.(b). As the course will be studied in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland and it is at Regulated Qualifications Framework level 3 or above and it meets the requirement of ST 10.2.

Study on this course with an education provider which is not a Student sponsor would therefore fit the definition set out in GR 8.2.(c) and as such would not be permitted under the conditions of the Graduate route.’

Whilst the Home Office has not changed guidance publicly as yet, this is a definitive response from the Home Office which potentially impacts many individuals and organisations, and so it is important for all parties concerned to understand their responsibilities.

Anyone who holds immigration permission is responsible for ensuring that they comply with the conditions of their leave at all times. Graduate visa holders should ensure that they are conducting activities which comply with their permission. Breaches of immigration rules can not only impact an individual’s current immigration status but also any future immigration applications they make.

Student sponsors should also ensure that students studying at their institutions hold the correct immigration status to undertake a particular course for the duration of their study. Sponsors are required to support immigration control.

If organisations are employing individuals on Graduate visas and are aware of their study plans, it is important to check with the individuals that they are complying with the conditions, as otherwise, this may impact their ability to work.

There are options for individuals who wish to study, and this may include changing immigration status from a Graduate visa to a Skilled worker visa or a Student visa, provided the eligibility requirements are met.

Compliance with conditions of leave is of paramount importance.

If you have any questions about how this impacts you, please don’t hesitate to contact Chetal Patel, Head of Immigration at Bates Wells.