Graduate Visa Route
The Graduate route is a 2-year or 3-year visa that allows you to stay and work in the UK after you finish your course.
Potential changes to 2023 immigration regulations
On 23 May 2023 the Home Office issued a statement which included information about potential changes to immigration regulations. Several points would impact Student Visa holders if implemented.
Please note that these are currently proposed changes only. They have not been written into law at this time and the rules remain as outlined in our guidance pages. We do not currently have any further information about the proposed changes. We will update our pages to reflect any confirmed changes as soon as this becomes possible.
The full Home Office statement can be read on the UK Parliament website and an explanation of how this may affect you can be found on the UKCISA website.
Eligible graduates must wait for formal confirmation from the university that they have been reported to the Home Office before proceeding with their visa application under this route.
- Graduate route is open to students who complete a degree at undergraduate level or above.
- If your course was 12 months or fewer in length then you must have studied the whole course from within the UK on a Student/Tier 4 visa.
- If your course was over 12 months then you must have spent at least 12 months studying in the UK on a Student/Tier 4 visa. (See the COVID-19 information below if your study included the academic years from 2020-2022).
- You can only apply for the Graduate route from within the UK
- You must have a valid Student/Tier 4 visa at the time you apply. Please check that your Student visa has been issued for the correct period of time well in advance.
- You can only apply after the University has reported to the UKVI that you have successfully completed your course.
- You must have completed your course entirely: all dissertations/thesis must be submitted and your SIMS record must show you have completed and passed you course.
- If you were fully financially sponsored for your course then you will need permission from your sponsor to apply for this visa.
To be eligible for the Graduate Route visa, you must have already successfully completed a relevant course when you apply.
The relevant course must be either:
- an undergraduate degree
- a Masters degree
- a PhD degree or other doctoral qualification
or have one of the following qualifications:
- 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 foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry
- a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)
- 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.
These are listed in Appendix Graduate of the Immigration Rules.
If you are not studying for a qualification stated above then you will not be eligible for the Graduate Route.
Changes to your course of study
Normally you must have completed your course during your current Tier 4/ Student visa and it must be the same course as written on your most recent CAS.
There are some exceptions:
- If your CAS was assigned for an integrated programme, and you successfully completed only the lower level, you can use that degree as the relevant qualification
- If you were permitted to switch to a different course without applying for a new Tier 4/ Student visa, you can use that new course as the relevant qualification
- If you added an assessed work placement or study abroad programme, this does not stop you meeting the qualification requirement
- If your last Tier 4/ Student visa was granted to work as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer, it is fine if you completed your course on the Tier 4/Student visa immediately before it.
The effect of resits, repeats, or other delays to your end date
Please note that if the end date of your course changes for any reason this may have an impact on your eligibility for the Graduate Route.
As it is a requirement that you are reported by the University as successfully completed before your become eligible to apply, any delay in your end date could mean that such reporting cannot be actioned before your Student visa expires. The impact of delay and the possible actions to resolve this will vary depending on your circumstances.
- If your end date is delayed due to resits or repeats, you may be able to extend your Student visa to account for this. You can find our guide to extending your Student visa here. Please contact us for questions about eligibility and help with this process.
- If you are studying on a Bachelors or Masters programme and your end date has been delayed for reasons other than resits or repeats, it is unlikely that you will be able to extend your Student visa in the UK. If your delayed end date falls within your visa validity, we strongly recommend that you clarify your exam board date with your school administrative office to understand whether this will fall outside of your current visa end date as far in advance as possible. This will help you understand the potential implications of this change. You may be able to extend your Student visa from overseas in this situation, however time and travel may be a challenge.
- If your end date is delayed and you are studying for a PhD, you are very likely to be able to extend your Student visa in the UK so allowing additional time for Graduate Route eligibility. Please contact us for questions about eligibility and help with this process.
If changes to your study mean that the Graduate Route becomes inviable, you may be interested in alternative immigration routes available.
The Graduate route allows you to stay to look for work and work in the UK for 2 years, or 3 years if you have completed a PhD.
- work in any job, full time or part time (except as a professional sportsperson or coach)
- switch into the Skilled worker route if you find a qualifying job and sponsorship
- be self-employed.
You cannot extend the Graduate route visa.
Only supplementary study is allowed. This means you can only study courses that do not meet the requirements for sponsorship under the Student route with this visa.
The Graduate route does not count towards 5-year settlement but does count towards the 10-year long residence route.
Applying for the Graduate route visa
The University must report your successful completion before you are eligible to apply.
You can only apply for the Graduate Route once the University has confirmed to the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that you have successfully completed your course. This reporting is actioned only after your degree result has been confirmed by an exam board and you record has undergone mandatory checks following this. Please allow 10 working days after the exam board for these checks and reporting to be actioned. If you are uncertain of when your exam board will be held, this information will be accessible to you on your SIMS online account, or you can contact your School administrative office for this information.
The Student Visa Compliance (SVC) team in Registry are responsible for doing this and you will be sent an email confirming this. Do not apply before receiving this email or you risk your application being refused.
If you have received formal confirmation of your award from the Registry, but not confirmation that this has been reported to the UKVI, please contact SVC via the Student Connect system.
Applications are submitted online
You will need to fill out an application online and verify your identity, the application requires:
- passport/travel document
- BRP Card
- your most recent Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement for your completed course
- permission from your financial sponsor if you were sponsored in the last 12 months.
Access the application form and further information directly from the UKVI.
Cost of application
The costs for an application under this route are as follows:
- Application fee - £700
- Immigration Health Surcharge - £624 per year
Therefore, the total cost of application to be expected is:
|Type of visa||Total cost|
|3-year visa (PhD graduates)||£2,572|
The cost of application and IHS for dependants is the same as for the main applicant.
Dependent family members
Family members who are in the UK with a visa as your dependant can apply with you to continue being your dependant on the Graduate route.
Family members overseas or who have immigration leave in a different category cannot apply to join you after you have your Graduate route visa.
Children born in the UK during your most recent Student/Tier 4 visa only will be eligible to apply as your dependants on the Graduate route.
Children born during a previous period of Student leave should apply as your dependants under Student leave before making an application as dependants under the Graduate route.
Children born during Graduate leave will be eligible to apply as dependants.
For courses of over 12 months
If you are studying a course of over 12 months then:
- you need to have spent at least 12 months of your course studying from within the UK on a Student/Tier 4 visa
- under the COVID-19 concessions, any time you have spent outside or inside the UK studying remotely between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021, or any time spent outside the UK studying remotely between 27 September 2021 and 6 April 2022, is not counted as studying outside the UK
Further information about the Graduate route can be found on the UKCISA website.
The Home Office provides information about the Graduate route and provides more details in the caseworker guidance for the Graduate route.
If you have any questions about your eligibility or require visa advice, please contact:
Student Visa Support enquiries
Contact us through Student Connect
Information on this page is correct as of May 2023. For the most up-to-date information, please visit UKCISA.