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With no cap on the number of graduate visas issued, this is expected to be a very successful route for qualifying foreign students and their dependents. This now provides employers with a wider pool of talent. Graduates on the other hand, will be given the opportunity to live and work in the UK for at least 2 years before they return to their home country or switch to a more permanent visa category such as the Skilled Worker route.


This Graduate Visa allows foreign students to live, work or look for work in the UK for two years after completing their studies. PHD and doctorate students will be granted three years. Eligible applicants must:

  • have successfully completed a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK postgraduate degree, or a relevant qualification listed within the qualification requirements of UK’s immigration rules this academic year.
  • presently hold a Tier 4 Student visa or have valid leave as a student, with a Higher Education Provider who possesses a track record of compliance.
  • receive confirmation that their sponsor has notified the Home Office of the applicant’s successful course completion.
  • have studied in the UK for a minimum period of the course for which their last period of permission to stay as a student was issued.
    • If the course duration was 12 months or less, they must have completed the full length of the course;
    • for courses which ran for more than 12 months, the applicant must have completed at least 12 months of the course.

Concessions during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown

Students who took part in remote learning overseas between January 2020 and September 2021 may still apply if they:

  1. began their course in 2020 and entered the UK on or before 21st June 2021; or
  2. began their course in 2021 and enter the UK by 27th September 2021.

Post-Study work

Under the Graduate Visa route, international graduates will be allowed to remain in the UK and look for work. They can:

  • undertake roles at any skill level
  • do not need to be sponsored or satisfy any minimum salary requirement.
  • switch jobs at any time during the visa validity period (see below)

The Nathanson Partnership are pleased to provide an overview of the Graduate Visa route below:

Sponsorship The Graduate Route is an unsponsored route. This means that applicants will not need a job offer or a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) in order to be eligible.

Successful applicants will be permitted to look for work and can work flexibly once a job has been secured.  They will be able to undertake roles at any skill level and will not need to satisfy any minimum salary requirement.  Successful applicants will also be able to switch jobs.

Validity Successful applicants holding a bachelor’s or master’s degree will be able to stay in the UK for two years. Doctoral students will be able to stay in the UK for three years.
Extensions This route does not allow you to extend permission to stay beyond the two years. If successful applicants secure employment with a sponsored entity, you can switch to the Skilled Worker route while in the UK.
Settlement The Graduate Route will not lead directly to settlement.
Switching visas Successful applicants 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, if you meet the criteria.
Dependents Dependents of successful applicants already in the UK will be able to extend their stay for the same time period.  New dependents will not be permitted on this route, unless a dependent child is born in the UK during a period of Student or Tier 4 visa.
Visa fee The visa fee is the same for the main applicant and each dependent. This is broken down to:

  • The Graduate Visa fee is £700.00 per applicant.
  • Each applicant will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge of £624.00 per year.
  • Professional fees and disbursements will apply.
Evidence Applicants are not required to provide maintenance evidence.

How to apply for a Graduate Visa

Applications must be submitted from within the UK.  This is an online application, and successful applicants will be issued with a digital visa. Similar to the EUSS and BNO Citizenship application process, applicants must first verify their identity using the ‘UK Immigration ID Check’ mobile app. For those who cannot use this app, they will need to visit a UK Visas and Citizenship Application Services centre (UKVCAS) to complete the application process.

Once the online application has been submitted, applicants must not leave the UK as this could affect their eligibility and may be refused re-entry into the UK. Successful applicants will receive a digital visa which can be viewed later on the Home Office’s View and Prove service.

Contact us if you require any further information or assistance with your Graduate Visa application.


Bee has more than 18 years’ experience in UK immigration and nationality law and has been advising businesses that have been expanding into the UK or growing their UK presence or workforce.