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Last updated: 20 Sep 2021 1:31pm

Graduate Immigration Route

Graduate Immigration Route

Information about the UK government’s two to three year graduate work visa for international students with a Student or Tier 4 visa.

Overview

This route launched at 9.00am on 1 July 2021.

The information below is based on the following Immigration Rules and Home Office Caseworker Guidance:

The new route will allow you to apply for immigration permission to remain in the UK for two years after your studies so you can look for work or start work at any skill level, or 3 years if you have completed a PhD.

It is a flexible post-study work visa, which does not require you to have a job offer or sponsorship from an employer before you apply. It will allow you to look for or undertake work at any skill or salary level.

Eligibility

Further details around eligibility are listed below.

Eligibility requirements

For your application to be valid, you must:

  • make your application in the UK; and
  • have a valid Student or Tier 4 immigration permission at the time of application; or
  • have held valid permission on the Student or Tier 4 (General) routes and you have been given a period of exceptional assurance and have not overstayed that period; and
  • have permission from your home government or an international scholarship agency if they have paid for both your tuition fees and living costs in the last 12 months. This is a validity requirement.

For you to be eligible:

  • you should have successfully completed a full Bachelors or Postgraduate degree (e.g. Masters or PhD) or one of the other specific alternative qualifications confirmed by UKVI (see Eligible qualifications). Most non-degree awarding qualifications, such as Certificates or Diplomas, are not eligible for the Graduate route; and
  • the University must have notified UKVI that you have successfully completed your course before you submit your immigration application, and
  • you should have successfully completed your course during your most recent period of Tier 4 or Student permission (There is an exception for sabbatical officers who can rely on their previous period of student permission)
  • you must have not previously been granted permission under the Graduate Immigration Route or the Doctorate Extension scheme, and
  • you must also have completed a relevant period of study in the UK with the relevant immigration permission (see Study in UK and remote learning)

Study in the UK requirement

There is a requirement that students have undertaken a ‘relevant period’ of study in the UK.

If your course is longer than 12 months, you must have spent at least 12 months studying your course inside the UK with Tier 4 or Student permission (See the section on remote learning below); or

If the length of your course is 12 months or less, you must have spent the full duration of your course studying inside the UK with Tier 4 or Student permission. (See the section on remote learning below)

Remote Learning and Covid 19 concessions

Due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, many international students will have been learning remotely outside of the UK. UKVI has published some Covid 19 concessions. It will still be possible for you to apply for the Graduate Route visa if you return to the UK by a specific deadline.

If you started a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or Jan 2021 and have not previously entered the UK to study that course, you must enter the UK on a Student Visa on or before 27 September 2021, or before your visa expires (whichever is sooner) in order to be eligible.

If you began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 and have existing permission as a Student (including those with Tier 4 permission) to study that course, and have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, you will be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route provided that you return to the UK before the end date of your current immigration permission.

If you are studying remotely on a course that is longer than 12 months, you must return to the UK before your Student or Tier 4 permission expires. You will not be prevented from being eligible for the route as a result of any distance learning outside the UK between 24 January 2020 and 6 April 2022.

If you are on an articulated degree and only sponsored under the student route for 12 months, you will be treated as being on a course of less than 12 months, even if your degree course is over 12 months. You should follow the deadlines for students on courses of less than 12 months.

If you start a course in September 2021 or January 2022, you will need to be in the UK by 6 April 2022*

* Please note that these deadlines may change.

Eligible Qualifications

To be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route you must successfully complete a full Bachelors or Postgraduate degree (e.g. UG, Masters, PhD) or one of the additional relevant qualifications below:

  • a law conversion course validated by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales
  • the Legal Practice Course in England and Wales
  • the Bar Practice Course in England and Wales
  • 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.

If you are not studying for a qualification stated above at City then you will not be eligible for the Graduate Route.

Making an application

Further details around the application process are provided below.

Cost

The application fee is £700.

You will also need to pay £624 for the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge upfront at the time of the application. It is the same cost for any dependants (Child dependants pay £470 IHS fee per year).

A PhD graduate will pay a total of £700 plus 3 x £624 = £2572

A UG or PG graduate will pay a total of £700 + 1248 = £1948

The IHS fee is non- refundable should you decide to leave the UK before the end of your immigration permission or switch into another immigration category.

Please note that you will not need to show evidence that you hold a certain amount of money in order to apply for the Graduate route. However, you should carefully consider how you will support yourself in the UK and meet your living costs, for example if you do not find work straightaway.

Application process

The application process is slightly different to what you experienced when you applied for your student visa, and for most applicants it will be entirely digital.

Sign in/create account

You will need to sign into an existing UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account, or create a new one.

Prove your identity

As part of the application you will need to prove your identity, to do this you will need to download the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app.

This will require you to use a phone or other device that is compatible with the app. Most android phones and iPhones (series 7 onwards) will be compatible. If your phone does not have the required NFC settings, it is possible to use someone else's device, as no records will be stored on the phone. It may be possible to arrange to use a device via the Visa Advice team if you are having difficulties with this.

If you are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you usually do this by scanning your passport with the app. If you are not from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you usually do this by scanning your biometric residence permit (BRP).

If you cannot scan your passport or BRP with the app, you will be asked to arrange an appointment to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVACS) service point.

You will also be subject to identity, criminality and security checks

Have your CAS number ready

You will need to have your Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number that you used for your current Student or Tier 4 visa (you do not need to request a new one). Your CAS number will be included in the email from the university confirming your successful completion with UKVI.

Apply

You should only make the application after you have been notified by email that the University has confirmed your successful completion with UKVI. If you make the application beforehand it may be refused.

Make a Graduate Visa application

Support from the University

The University will not be able to offer 1:1 Graduate Route application checks. The visa advice team will answer general questions around eligibility and provide information to assist you with the application process if required.

After you Apply

You should not travel outside of the UK or the Common Travel Area whilst your application is being processed by UKVI. If you do leave the CTA this will automatically lead to the withdrawal of your application.

Please note that most applicants will only receive a digital record of their immigration status or evisa. Visa nationals will still receive a Biometric Residence permit.

You will use your UKVI account credentials to sign into the online View and Prove service on GOV.UK, which is where you can access your eVisa.

View and prove your immigration status

To sign in to view your eVisa, you will need:

  • Details of your passport or the BRP that you used to apply
  • Your date of birth
  • Access to the mobile number or email address you used when you applied – you will then be sent a code for signing in.

If you have updated your identity document or sign in details (email address or phone number) in your account since applying, you will need to use the updated details to sign in instead.

You can view your eVisa on any device, such as a mobile, tablet or laptop

Signing into the View and Prove service allows you to:

  • View your eVisa and check what rights you have in the UK, for example the right to work
  • Prove your status to others, such as employers, landlords or education providers, by generating a ‘share code’ which gives them time limited access to relevant data
  • Update some of your personal details, for example your passport number or email address. You can update your details through the ‘update your UK Visas and Immigration account details’ service or by using the ‘update details’ function in the View and Prove service.

Dependants

New dependants will not be permitted under the Graduate Immigration Route. If your dependants already have permission as your dependant partner or child, they will be permitted to extend their permission in line with you and must apply from inside the UK.

If you have children born in the UK during your most recent Student or Tier 4 period of permission, they will also be able to apply for permission as your dependant.

Any dependants that have received financial sponsorship from a Government or International Scholarship Agency in the 12 months immediately before the date that they make their immigration permission application must also provide a letter from their sponsor giving consent for them to stay in the UK whilst you are on the Graduate Route.

Please note that someone studying with immigration permission as a dependant will not be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route in their own right, even if they successfully complete their course. This is because there is a requirement to hold student immigration permission for a minimum 12 month period in order to be eligible.

What you can and cannot do with Graduate Route permission

If you are granted permission under the Graduate Route, you will be able to:

  • Do any work (including being self-employed), except as a professional sportsperson or coach
  • Study, only if you are not studying a course at an education provider which is a Student sponsor, and which would meet the approved qualification and level of study requirements of the Student route which are set out in Appendix Student
  • Switch to a Skilled Worker visa (only if you meet the requirements for this immigration category)

You will not be able to:

  • Claim public funds
  • Work as a professional sportsperson or coach
  • Study at an institution that has Student Sponsor Status (including Student Sponsor Status with a Track Record of Compliance) on a course where the qualification and level of study meet the requirements for the Student visa category. For example, any course that a Student Route sponsor can issue a CAS in order for a student to study under the Student Route cannot be studied if you hold permission under the Graduate Route.

You will require ATAS clearance if any study that you do with a Graduate visa requires it.

If you are required to register with the police, you will also need to do this when you have permission under the Graduate Route.

Please note that until your Graduate Route permission is granted you will continue to be subject to student work conditions, see FAQ below on working.

Frequently Asked Questions

How and when will UKVI know I have successfully completed my programme?

Successful completion is usually when you receive official notification of your final degree results which have been ratified by the examination board.

If you are eligible you will be sent an email to confirm that this information has been sent to UKVI, and that you can now proceed with submitting your Graduate Route application.

If your visa is expiring within the next 2 weeks and you have not received this email, please contact the visa advice team.

Autumn 2021 results - Official PG results are not usually available until October/November. The University will report successful competition in time for you to make a Graduate Route application prior to your student visa expiring.

What happens if I repeat a year?

Repeat studies may impact your eligibility for the Graduate visa. You must hold valid Tier 4/Student permission in the UK at the time that you complete your course and become eligible to apply.

What happens if I am on an integrated Masters programme and complete with a lower award?

You will still be eligible for the Graduate visa if you complete with the lower award, e.g. a BEng instead of an MEng.

Can I switch into the Student Route from a different type of immigration permission in order to apply for Graduate Route?

You must have been in the UK on a Tier 4/Student visa for the relevant period of time in order to apply for the Graduate Route.

This means either 12 months for a course that is longer than this, or the full course duration of the course if it is shorter – unless the remote studying concessions apply to you.

However, it does mean you cannot switch into the Student Route for a short period in order to become eligible.

What happens if I have changed programme during my studies?

You will still be eligible for the Graduate Visa if:

  • you are studying a relevant qualification; and
  • changed programme before you completed your studies; and
  • successfully complete the course you have changed to within the validity of your Student permission

You should have been advised by the visa advice team at the time that you changed programme.

If you complete your course with a different or lower award than expected you may no longer be eligible.

Can I extend the Graduate Route permission or switch into other work routes if I want to stay longer?

You cannot extend permission under the Graduate Route and you can only have it once.

For example, you cannot complete your Masters, apply for Graduate Route, then return to University to do a PhD and then apply again for Graduate Route in the future.

Think about when would be the best time for you to hold the permission.

It will be possible to switch into other immigration routes (e.g. the Skilled Worker Route) if you find a skilled job with an employer who holds a sponsor licence.

For further information about other post study work options, visit our Skilled worker visa page.

Does the Graduate Route lead to settlement in the UK?

The Graduate Route is not a direct route to settlement (unlike the Skilled Worker visa).

Time spent on the route can count towards a continuous period of lawful residence, if you spend 10 years continuously resident in the UK and meet the other requirements for an application for indefinite permission to stay in the UK based on long residence.

We cannot advise you on this type of application and you will need to seek specialist immigration advice.

It will be possible to switch into other immigration routes, for example the Skilled worker route if you find a skilled job with an employer who could sponsor you. For further information about other post study work visa options, visit our Skilled worker visa page.

What kind of work can I do whilst my Graduate Route application is pending?

Whilst your application under the Graduate Route is pending with the Home Office, you will still be subject to Student Visa work conditions.

If you have completed your course, you can usually work full time from the formal end date of your course until your student permission expires, but it must not be in a full time permanent role.

If you are offered a permanent full time role, you should not start work until your Graduate Route application is approved.

Alternatively, you could work up to 20 hours a week for an employer in a permanent role, or full time in a casual or temporary role. For comprehensive information about student work conditions, visit the UKCISA: International student work page.

You can switch to start full time permanent work for an employer if:

  • you have made a Skilled Worker immigration application; and
  • completed your degree; or
  • are within the final three months of your course.

If you are a PhD student, you can also apply for permission under the Skilled Worker route after completing one year of study towards your PhD.

If you are made an offer for a permanent skilled role and you need to start work before you have received your Degree or can apply for the Graduate Route, you may wish to consider this route. This will require sponsorship from the employer.

See Also

Immigration Rules Appendix Graduate

UKVI Graduate Route Caseworker Guidance 

UKCISA Graduate Route ("Post Study Work")

The Graduate Route: Information for International Students