UK Graduate Route

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UK Graduate Route

The Graduate Route is a new route for international students who want to work following the successful completion of a course of study at UK bachelor’s degree level, postgraduate degree level, or other relevant qualification level. Set to open on 1 July 2021, the Graduate Route presents new opportunities for international students.

Below is an overview of the associated requirements and procedures to apply for the Graduate Route.

Overview of the Graduate Route

The new Graduate opened for applications on 1 July 2021. To qualify students must have completed an eligible course at a UK higher education provider with track record of compliance with the government’s immigration requirements. You can check whether the institution has a track record of compliance here 

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. 

The Graduate route will be unsponsored, meaning applicants will not need a job offer to apply for the route. There will be no minimum salary requirements nor caps on numbers. Graduates on the route will be able to work flexibly, switch jobs and develop their career as required.   

Coronavirus concessions for students unable to travel to the UK due to the pandemic have also been extended. Applicants who began their studies in Autumn 2020 will now have until 21 June 2021 to enter the UK in order to be eligible for the Graduate route. Students who began their studies in January or February 2021 will need to be in the UK by 27 September 2021.  

Making an application

The application is made online. It must also meet all the following requirements: 

  • any fee and Immigration Health Charge must have been paid; and  
  • the applicant must have provided any required biometrics; and  
  • the applicant must have provided a passport or other travel document which establishes their identity and nationality; and  
  • the applicant must be in the UK.  

The applicant must also not be in breach of immigration laws or be on immigration bail.

When can I make an application for the Graduate route?

You need to apply for the Graduate route before your Student visa expires.

You can apply after your university has told you that you’ve successfully completed your course. You do not have to wait until you’ve graduated or have been given a certificate.


The application fee for the Graduate visa is £700. 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).

Automatic reduction of the fees

Your visa fees will be automatically reduced by £55 if you’re a citizen of any of the following:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Turkey

Qualification requirements

The applicant will meet the qualification requirement if they have successfully completed a course of study for which they have been or will be awarded a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK postgraduate degree, or successfully completed a relevant qualification. A relevant qualification is one of the following:  

  • law conversion course (GDL or PGDL) validated by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales; or  
  • the Legal Practice Course (LPC) in England and Wales, the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland; or  
  • the Bar Practice Course (BPC) in England and Wales, or the Bar Course in Northern Ireland; or 
  • foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry; or  
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE); or 
  • a professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public authority.  

Length of the course

The applicant must have studied in the UK for a minimum period of the course for which they were last granted permission to study (on a Tier 4/Student Visa). This would depend on the length of the course. 

If the total length of the course was 12 months or less, the applicant must have studied in the UK for the full duration of the course. 

If the total length of the course was longer than 12 months, the applicant must have studied in the UK for at least 12 months. 

Where distance learning took place overseas between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021, this will not prevent the applicant being able to apply for the Graduate route, if:  

  • they began their course in 2020 and entered the UK on or before 21 June 2021 and complete that course of study in the UK with permission as a Student; or  
  • they began their course in 2021 and entered the UK before 27 September 2021 and complete that course of study in the UK with permission as a Student 

Length of leave

The length of leave will depend on the type of qualification that the applicant holds 

The length of leave for an applicant with a PhD or other doctoral qualification, will be 3 years. 

The length of leave for an applicant with any other qualification will be 2 years. 

Conditions of leave

The grant will be subject to all the following conditions:  

  • no access to public funds; and  
  • work (including self-employment and voluntary work) is permitted, apart from work as a professional sportsperson; and  
  • study is permitted, except study with an education provider which is a Student sponsor, in which case the Student route must be followed 
  • study is subject to the ATAS condition; and  
  • the person may be required to register with the police.  

Dependants of a Graduate

Individuals who already have permission as a dependant partner or child of a Student who is applying on this route can also apply to extend their permission as a dependant on this route; other types of dependants are not permitted on this route. 

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Last updated on January 20, 2022


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Last updated on January 20, 2022