The Graduate Visa allows international students who have completed an eligible UK degree to stay in the UK to work, or look for work, for two years (three years for those being awarded doctorates) after they have completed their studies. The Graduate Visa does not lead directly to settlement, but graduates on the route are able to switch into other work-based routes which can lead to settlement.

What is the Graduate Visa? 

The Graduate visa is for graduates who want to work, or look for work in the UK. The visa is granted for two years if you have completed an undergraduate or masters level course, and three years for PhD or other doctoral qualifications.

Requirements for Graduate Visa

In order to qualify for a Graduate Visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that:

  • You have successfully completed a UK degree, or other eligible course;
  • You have studied at a Higher Education Provider which is a student sponsor with a track record of compliance;
  • You have spent a minimum period of time studying in the UK;
  • You are applying from within the UK and have valid leave as a Student or Tier 4 Student at the date of application;
  • You have not previously held permission on the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES), or the Graduate route;
  • You do not fall for refusal on grounds of suitability.

The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances. You may want to speak to our expert immigration lawyers for legal advice.

Which courses are eligible for the Graduate Visa? 

In order to extend your stay on the Graduate Immigration Route you need to have successfully completed a degree at UK bachelor’s or postgraduate level, 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.

You will also be eligible to apply for a Graduate Visa if you have been sponsored to undertake a role as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer following the completion of an eligible qualification in your most recent grant of permission to study.

Is there a minimum study period for the Graduate Visa? 

In order to qualify for a UK Graduate Visa, your studies on an eligible course need to have involved a minimum period of time spent studying in the UK. The minimum UK study period will depend on the length of the course. 

If you have completed a course lasting 12 months or less, you will need to have studied the whole course in the UK.

If your course lasted more than 12 months, you will need to have been granted permission for at least 12 months on the Student route and have spent that time studying in the UK.

How much does the Graduate Visa cost? 

The cost to apply to the Graduate route is £700 (for both two and three-year Graduate route applications) and you will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your application. This gives you access to the UK’s National Health Service on generally the same basis as a UK permanent resident. The Immigration Health Surcharge costs £624 per year and the full amount needs to be paid when applying. 

Dependants will also be required to pay the application fee of £700, as well as the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Can you obtain settlement under the Graduate Visa Route? 

The Graduate Visa does not lead directly to settlement or indefinite leave to remain. However, once on the Graduate Immigration Route you will be able to extend your stay by switching into other work-based routes, such as the Skilled Worker route, the Global Talent route and the Innovator route, all of which can lead to settlement. Applicants will of course need to satisfy the requirements of the route.

What else do you need to know about the Graduate Visa Route?

The Graduate Visa Route is an unsponsored route, meaning that applicants do not need a job offer or a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) in order to be eligible.

Graduates on the Graduate Visa Route are permitted to look for work and, once employment has been found, work flexibly. They can undertake roles at any skill level and do not need to satisfy any minimum salary requirement.

Successful applicants are also be able to switch jobs. Successful applicants on the Graduate Visa Route who have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree are able to stay in the UK for two years. Doctoral students are able to stay in the UK for three years. It is not possible to extend permission to stay on the Graduate Immigration Route.

If you have family members in the UK who already have permission to stay in the UK as your dependent then they will be able to extend their stay when you apply to enter the Graduate Visa Route. New dependents are not permitted on this route, except where a dependent child is born in the UK during a period of Student or Graduate leave.

Exceptions under the Covid-19 Rules

Although it is not possible to apply for a Graduate Visa from outside the UK, the Home Office has put in place concessions for international students who have been unable to travel to the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Where distance learning has taken place outside of the UK as a result of Covid-19, the following concessions apply:

  • If you began your studies in autumn 2020 or spring 2021, you will be eligible to switch into the Graduate Immigration Route if you entered the UK by 27 September 2021;
  • If you began your studies in autumn 2021 or spring 2022, you will be eligible to switch into the Graduate Immigration Route if you entered the UK by 6 April 2022.

Graduate whose Student Visa expired before 1 July 2021

International students who have graduated with a degree from a UK higher education institution and whose Tier 4 (General) Student leave or Student leave expired before 1 July 2021 will not be eligible for a Graduate Visa. However, if you fall into this category you may qualify to switch into another immigration route, such as the Skilled Worker route, Start-up route, Innovator route or Global Talent route and among other visa routes.

Making a Graduate Visa application with OneLaw Chambers

At OneLaw Chambers, our immigration solicitors and barristers regularly assist with Graduate Visa applications in order for applicants to remain and settle in the UK. We have assisted many foreign national applicants to prepare and submit successful Graduate Visa applications and we have represented clients from all over the world.

Whether you require expert immigration advice on the requirements of the Immigration Rules, an independent immigration assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a Graduate Visa or professional immigration representation with preparing your Graduate Visa immigration application, our immigration solicitors and barristers can help you.

We are committed to ensuring that our immigration solicitors and barristers prepare every immigration visa application with utmost quality and skill so that successful outcome is achieved every time. Our immigration solicitors and barristers operate in a friendly and cooperative manner to provide our clients with the best client care and service during the entire immigration application process. 

To discuss your Graduate Visa application with one our immigration solicitors and barristers, please contact our Immigration lawyers on 0207 489 2044 / 0208 616 1819 or complete our enquiry form with your details.


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