The Graduate Route is for international students who want to work following the successful completion of a course of study at Bachelor’s degree-level or above.
About this visa
What kind of work can I do?
Once the Graduate route visa is granted you can:
- Do any job, except work as a professional sportsman or coach
- Do any type of work including full time, part-time, temporary, contract, work experience or an internship
- Work for any employer, as this route does not require employer sponsorship
- Be self-employed, work free-lance, offer consultancy or contract work
- Open a business without the restrictions the Start-up visa presents, including endorsement, monitoring or the business succeeding
- You can undertake professional training such as teacher training or professional law training (this includes salaried training)
How long will it last?
Those granted a Graduate visa will be able to work or look for work after their studies for 2 years. Those who have completed a PhD will be granted 3 years permission.
- This visa is unsponsored, meaning you will not need a job offer to apply for the route
- There are no minimum salary requirements and there is no cap on numbers
- Graduates on the route will be able to work flexibly, switch jobs and develop their career as required
- There are no maintenance fund requirements
- There is no English language requirement
Scholarships during your student permission
If you have a government scholarship for your Student permission you will need to gain permission to apply for the Graduate route visa.
Starting a business
If you open a business on the Graduate route visa and start trading, you will not be eligible for the Start-up visa so to continue your immigration permission and run your business in the UK you will need to check your eligibility under the separate Innovator route.
You can only bring dependants with you under the Graduate Route visa if they were your dependants whilst you were on the Student or Tier 4 (General) student permission, with the exception of babies born in the UK since. Dependents would need to apply in the UK but may be allowed to apply outside the UK if there is a special reason.
If you have dependants that will need to apply with you under thhe Graduate route visa, please refer to pages 20-26 of the Home Office Graduate route visa guidance.
You cannot study a course on the Graduate route visa that would normally be sponsored under the Student route. You can study online, evening or recreational courses or any course at an education provider that does not sponsor student visas. You can study part-time undergraduate courses.
The graduate route cannot be extended and you cannot apply for it again in the future, even if you complete more study. If you are interested in staying in the UK after the graduate route, see the 'After the Graduate route' options further down the page.
Who can apply?
This depends on the current visa, qualification awarded and whether the study was in the UK or not. Previous immigration permission could also affect your application. There are COVID-19 concessions for meeting the study in the UK requirement.
- Your current visa must be a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) Student visa and you cannot switch to the Graduate Route from another route
- You cannot apply if your Student visa expires before the Graduate Route opening date (1 July 2021), if you have been granted the Graduate Route visa before or if you have been granted a visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme before.
- The qualification must be a UK degree or other eligible qualification (this includes a PGCE)
- You must be graduating in 2021 or later, so those who graduated in 2019 and 2020 cannot apply
- The qualification must have been completed during current Student or Tier 4 (General) Student permission and it must also be the qualification for which the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) was issued
- You can apply if the Home Office allowed you to change your course, if during the course the name changed or if the course is part of an integrated programme.
Study in the UK
- Courses of 12 months or less must have been studied entirely while you were in the UK
- Courses of more than 12 months must have been studied whilst you were in the UK for at least 12 months
- There are COVID-19 concessions for meeting this requirement.
The Home Office updated its guidance on the COVID-19 concessions on 2 July 2021. The deadline for coming back to the UK depends on personal circumstances.
Where the course is 12 months or less and your course started in 2020 or Spring 2021 via distance learning:
- If you are entering the UK for the first time, you can still make a Graduate visa application if you make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK on or before 27 September 2021
- If you already have Student permission or Tier 4 (General) Student permission, have entered the UK on this permission before and are returning to the UK, you can still make a Graduate visa application as long as you return to the UK before the end date of your permission.
Where the course is 12 months or less and your course is starting in Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022 via distance learning:
- If you are entering the UK for the first time, you can make a Graduate visa application if you make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK on or before 6 April 2022
- Students should travel to the UK once able to do so.
Where the course is longer than 12 months:
- You must have studied for at least 12 months in the UK
- Any absences due to distance learning outside the UK between 24 January 2020 and 6 April 2022 will not prevent you from meeting the “Study in the UK” requirement
- If your current Student permission expires before 6 April 2022, you must enter the UK before your visa expiry date rather than 6 April 2022.
The visa application
When, where and how should I make my application?
Before you apply you must have finished your course of study, received official results and received confirmation that your results have been sent to the Home Office. We are aware of the results days and will work hard to get results sent as quickly as possible but you must not apply until the Home Office has received your results.
Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you should get a decision on your visa within 8 weeks. You can stay in the UK while you wait for a decision.
While still on the Student route and waiting for the outcome of the Graduate route application, you can work according to the student route visa conditions.
You can only make an application whilst you are in the UK.
You will first complete an online application form which includes paying the relevant fees:
- The visa application fee is £700
- The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is £624 per year of immigration permission so will be £1248 (2 years), or £1872 for PhD graduates (3 years)
- Your application fee will be automatically reduced by £55 if you’re a citizen of one of the following countries:
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 or Turkey.
If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national with a passport that has a biometric chip, or you are a national from any country and you have a current BRP card, you will be able to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document on your phone. Once the visa is approved you will receive digital immigration status and will not receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
If this does not apply to you then you will need to use the online application form and make an appointment at a UKVCAS centre to enrol your biometrics. Once the visa is approved you will receive a new Biometric Residence ermit (BRP) and you will not have digital immigration status.
Preparing and gathering documents
When you apply you’ll need to provide:
- a valid passport or other travel document that shows your identity and nationality
- your biometric residence permit (BRP), if you were given one when you applied for your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
- your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number from when you applied for your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
Outcome and final steps
Getting your digital status
If you applied using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document on your phone and your application is successful you will receive an email confirming your digital status and this will include a PDF of your decision letter.
In order to view and prove your immigration status you will need to use the Home Office website to get a 'share code' and provide this to those concerned, such as an employer.
As you used the digital process, the share code is your method of proving your immigration status and you will not receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
Receiving a BRP card
Those who were unable to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app in the application will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
This is your proof of immigration status.
If your graduate visa application is refused, inform us immediately and send a copy of your decision letter in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can advise you of your options.
After the Graduate route
Once your Graduate route visa has been granted, you cannot apply to extend it and you cannot apply for a visa under this route again, even if you complete further study.
Switching to the Skilled Worker route
- You can switch to the Skilled Worker route for sponsored work
- You will be considered a “new entrant” whereby you will only need to meet 70% of the salary requirement
- If you find a job whilst on the Graduate route and then need to apply for the Skilled Worker route, you can stay in the same job providing it meets the criteria for this visa
Switching to other routes
- You will be able to switch into other routes including Spouse and Innovator
- You are also able to switch back to the Student route
Contact the Immigration Advice Service
You can send an email to email@example.com and we'll be happy to help.