The Graduate route visa is a type of work visa that allows foreign students to work in the UK for 2-3 years after they have completed their studies in the UK.
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Table of Contents
- What is a Graduate visa?
- Requirements for Graduate visa
- Documents required for a Graduate visa
- How long you can stay?
- Your partner and children
- When should I apply for the Graduate visa?
- What are the conditions of the Graduate visa?
- Can I switch to the Skilled Worker visa?
- Visa application processing time
- How can our immigration lawyer help you?
What is a Graduate visa?
The Graduate route visa is a new immigration route that was introduced by the UK government in July 2021. It allows international students who have completed their studies in the UK to remain in the country for up to 2 years (or up to 3 years for doctoral students) to work or look for work, at any skill level.
To be eligible for the Graduate route visa, you must have completed an eligible course of study at a UK higher education provider, such as a university or college, and have a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time of application. You must also have been in the UK for the duration of your studies, and have completed your course on or after 1 July 2021.
Once granted, the Graduate route visa allows you to work, or look for work, in any sector and at any skill level. You can switch into other immigration categories if you meet the eligibility criteria, such as the Skilled Worker visa or the Innovator visa. The Graduate route visa does not count towards settlement in the UK, but it can be a pathway to other immigration routes that do lead to settlement.
Requirements for Graduate visa
The main requirements for the Graduate route visa in the UK are as follows:
- Eligible Qualifications: You must have completed an eligible course at a UK higher education institution. This includes Bachelor's degrees, Master's degrees, PhDs and other eligible courses that are at least 12 months in duration.
- Valid Student Visa: You must have a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time of application, or have completed your course in the UK on or after 1 July 2021.
- Education provider: your education provider (such as your university or college) has told the Home Office you’ve successfully completed your course
You do not need to meet English language and financial requirements to apply for Graduate visa.
You must also meet all the other eligibility requirements depending on type of application and your personal circumstances. Please contact us for an initial assessment to determine your eligibility, and to discuss the options.
What documents are required for a Graduate visa?
You must provide the following documents when you apply for a Graduate visa:
- Your valid passport or travel document to confirm your identity.
- 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.
Your CAS reference number was sent to you by your education provider when they offered you a place on the course you completed with your Student visa. If you cannot find it, ask your education provider what it is.
This is a general list of documents. Depending on type of application and your personal circumstances, you might also need to provide additional documents.
Please contact us for an initial assessment to determine your eligibility, and find out the required list of documents in support of your application.
How long you can stay?
A Graduate visa lasts for 2 years. If you have a PhD or other doctoral qualification, it will last for 3 years. You cannot extend your Graduate visa. However, you may be able to switch to a different visa, for example a Skilled Worker visa.
Your partner and children
If your partner and children joined you in the UK as ‘dependants’ on your current Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa, they can apply to stay as dependants as on your Graduate visa. If their application is successful, their visa will end on the same date as yours.
If your child was born in the UK during your current Student or Tier 4 (General) student visa, they can also apply.
A dependent partner or child is any of the following:
- your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
- your child under 18 - including if they were born in the UK during your stay
- your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant
You'll need to provide evidence of your relationship when you apply.
When should I apply for the Graduate visa?
You should apply to the Graduate route once your university has sent you your final course results, and not before this. You do not have to wait until you have graduated to apply.
You must be in the UK when you apply. Those who apply from outside of the UK will be rejected and refused entry to the UK and could lose their eligibility to apply for the Graduate route. In addition, application fees may not be refunded.
You should not leave the UK or Common Travel Area whilst you are waiting for a decision on your application. Doing so may affect your eligibility for the Graduate route and result in you being unable to re-enter the UK. If your visa expires after you have applied to the Graduate route, you will be permitted to remain in the UK whilst your application is being considered.
What are the conditions of the Graduate visa?
Under the Graduate route, you are allowed to take up extra study, but you cannot study with a student sponsor on a course that would meet the requirements of a student visa, and you cannot study at a state school.
You are not allowed to bring new dependents. Dependants already in the UK as a Student dependant may apply as a dependant of a Graduate at the same time the Graduate applies to the route.
The Graduate route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement. However, if you find suitable employment, you will be able to switch to various work routes from the Graduate route. The grant of a Graduate route visa will be subject to no recourse to public funds.
Can I switch to the Skilled Worker visa?
From the Graduate route, you may be able to switch to the Skilled Worker route if you meet the relevant requirements, which allows you to stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer.
It is for a maximum of five years and contributes to settlement rights meaning you may be able to apply to live permanently in the UK.
The Graduate route does not count towards settlement rights however it does count towards the lawful residence of 10 years settlement category.
Graduate visa processing time
You should get a decision on your Graduate visa within 8 weeks, once you've applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents. However, it may take longer depending on the complexity of the matter.
How can our immigration lawyer help you?
As part of our immigration services for your immigration application, our expert immigration lawyer will:
- assess your eligibility for the relevant visa type by fully considering your circumstances;
- advise you on the required supporting documents to be submitted in support of your immigration application;
- assess all the documents to ensure that the documents you provide are as per the requirements of the Immigration Rules;
- advise you on strengths and potential weaknesses in your visa application and how you can overcome such weaknesses if any;
- complete the online immigration draft application form to share it with you for cross-checking;
- submit your application online and schedule your biometrics appointments with the relevant commercial partner of the UKVI;
- prepare a detailed cover letter in support of the immigration application explaining in detail how you are meeting all the requirements of the Immigration Rules so that you have the maximum chances of succeeding in your visa application;
- upload all the supporting documents online in support of the immigration application in their correct format and order;
- dealing and responding to any caseworker enquiries or correspondence from the Home Office caseworker for any further documents or information concerning your pending immigration application;
- do all the follow-up work on your immigration application until a decision is received from the Home Office UKVI.