Graduate visa

UK Graduate Route

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Who can apply for a UK Graduate visa

Graduate visa is a route for international students who are in the UK with a Student visa and want to stay and to work following successful completion of their course of study.

To qualify for a Graduate visa you have to meet the following criteria:

  • You should be in the UK with a valid student or Tier 4 visa
  • You should have successfully completed a course at a graduate or postgraduate level
  • The University where you studied has to be a registered sponsor with a track record of compliance
  • You must have studied in the UK for at least 12 months or, if your course was shorter than 12 months, for the full duration of the course
  • The University should have confirmed to the Home Office that you have successfully completed your studies

There are no financial requirements and you do not have to demonstrate that you have money to cover your expenses. You do not have to have a job offer and you are not required to work while you are in the UK on a Graduate visa.

You are allowed to study while you hold the Graduate visa, but it may be worth checking if extension of your Student visa is not a better option – you can only apply for the Graduate route once.

How to apply for the Graduate visa

You have to be in the UK to make the application.

The application is made online on the government portal.

You will have to complete the application form and upload your documents.

The documents required for your application do not have to be sent to the Home Office. You will have to make copies and upload them online.

Documents required for the Graduate visa application

The documents you will need :

  • a valid passport
  • your BRP showing valid leave to remain as a student
  • your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number.

If you had a scholarship to study in the UK, you will also need a letter from your sponsor or scholarship provider that they have no objection to your staying in the UK on the Graduate route.

If you are applying with partner and children, you will need once again to provide evidence of relationship. You cannot rely on the evidence submitted with the previous application.

Dependants of a UK Graduate

If your dependants were with you while you held your Student visa, they can also apply with you for further leave to remain. If they were not in the UK during your period of studies, they will need to join you before your student visa expires if you want them to be with you while you are on the Graduate route.

Graduate visa FAQs

  • 2 years if you have studied for a bachelor or master’s degree
  • 3 years if you studied at PhD or doctorate level.

You can apply as soon as the University has confirmed that you have successfully completed your course. You do not have to wait for the graduation ceremony. There is usually no necessity to make the application as early as possible – you would most likely have the right to work outside the term time while you hold your Student visa, so there is no rush to switch. However, if you are planning to travel after completing your course, it may be advisable to apply for the Graduate visa before you leave the country.

The latest you can apply for the Graduate visa is the day your Student visa expires. You have to apply within the UK.

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master’s degree
  • PhD or doctorate

In addition, it can be one of the following:

  • a law conversion course (GDL or PGDL) validated by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales
  • the Legal Practice Course (LPC) in England and Wales, the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland
  • the Bar Practice Course (BPC) in England and Wales, or the Bar Course in Northern Ireland
  • a foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry
  • a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)
  • a professional course which will allow you to work in a regulated profession (your education provider should confirm if your course is eligible)

You don’t need to worry about that as long as you made the application and paid the Home Office fee before your student visa expired. 

The application fee for the Graduate visa is £822. You will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge which is £624 for each year you’ll be in the UK (£1,248 for 2 years or £1,872 for 3 years).

The same fee applies to dependants of the main visa holder, but children under 18 pay lower HIS – £470 per year.

If you get a job in public sector healthcare you and your dependants may be eligible for a refund of the IHS fees.

What can one do on a Graduate visa

You will have unrestricted opportunities to take up employment or set up a business of your own. You are not required to work with a Graduate visa and you spend the time in the UK as you please. You can also travel to and from the UK without restrictions.

You can try different jobs and you can change employment as many times as you wish. The purpose of this visa is to allow you to explore the opportunities and choose what works best for you.

You can switch from the Graduate visa to any other work permitting route, but you cannot return to the Graduate route if things didn’t work out.

Graduate visa is granted only once and you cannot return to it if you have not used the entire period you were entitled to.

What opportunities are there after the Graduate visa

After the Graduate visa you can switch to a different immigration category while you are in the UK or you can leave the UK and return in a work permitting immigration category. Most commonly this will be under the Skilled Worker route, but it may also be as a Scale-up Worker, or under the Global talent or exceptional promise route. As a Skilled Worker you will be able to continue to rely on you “new entrant” status for a further two years after your Graduate visa expires.

If you found employment and your employer wants you to stay, they should be able to sponsor you. They will need a sponsor licence for which they may wish to apply in advance. The sponsor licence will allow your employer to sponsor any number of employees. If they already have a licence, they will need a certificate of sponsorship which can be assigned to you.

If you have set up your own business during your time on the Graduate route, your business may also be able to sponsor you so that you could apply for a visa extension as a Skilled Worker. For this you will need a settled worker in a senior position who will take the responsibility for the sponsor licence.


Last updated on 8 November 2023

Last updated on 21 December, 2022

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