The Graduate Visa allows international students who have completed an eligible UK degree to stay in the UK to work, or look for work, for two years (three years for those being awarded doctorates) after they have completed their studies.
The Graduate Visa does not lead directly to settlement, but graduates on the route are able to switch into other work-based routes which can lead to settlement.
In order to qualify for a Graduate Visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas & Immigration that:
The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances. You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.
In order to extend your stay on the Graduate Immigration Route you need to have successfully completed a degree at UK bachelor’s or postgraduate level, or 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.
You will also be eligible to apply for a Graduate Visa if you have been sponsored to undertake a role as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer following the completion of an eligible qualification in your most recent grant of permission to study.
In order to qualify for a UK Graduate Visa, you must have held permission as a Student, which was granted to study the relevant qualification in the UK, for a minimum period of time. The minimum period for which you must have held permission as a Student will depend on the length of the course.
If you have completed a course lasting 12 months or less, you will need to have held Student permission throughout the whole course in the UK.
If your course lasted more than 12 months, you will need to have been granted permission for at least 12 months on the Student route and have spent that time studying in the UK.
The Graduate Visa Route is an unsponsored route, meaning that applicants do not need a job offer or a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) in order to be eligible.
Graduates on the Graduate Visa Route are permitted to look for work and, once employment has been found, work flexibly. They can undertake roles at any skill level and do not need to satisfy any minimum salary requirement. Successful applicants are also be able to switch jobs.
Successful applicants on the Graduate Visa Route who have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree are able to stay in the UK for two years. Doctoral students are able to stay in the UK for three years.
It is not possible to extend permission to stay on the Graduate Immigration Route.
The Graduate Visa does not lead directly to settlement or indefinite leave to remain. However, once on the Graduate Immigration Route you 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 Founder route, all of which can lead to settlement. Applicants will of course need to satisfy the requirements of the route.
If you have family members in the UK who already have permission to stay in the UK as your dependent then they will be able to extend their stay when you apply to enter the Graduate Visa Route.
New dependents are not permitted on this route, except where a dependent child is born in the UK during a period of Student or Graduate leave.
The Home Office previously had concessions in place for international students who were unable to travel to the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic. These Covid concessions ended on 30 June 2022
Where distance learning had taken place outside the UK between 24 January 2020 and 6 April 2022 as a result of Covid-19, this did not prevent applicants from meeting the requirement to spend the relevant period studying in the UK if either:
Any period of distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 6 April 2022 as part of a course of study lasting longer than 12 months whilst the applicant held permission as a Student did not prevent them from meeting the requirement to spend the relevant period studying in the UK.
International students who have graduated with a degree from a UK higher education institution and whose Tier 4 (General) Student leave or Student leave expired before 1 July 2021 will not be eligible for a Graduate Visa. However, if you fall into this category you may qualify to switch into another immigration route, such as the Skilled Worker route, Innovator Founder route or Global Talent route, among others.
Our immigration solicitors regularly assist international students and graduates to move to, or extend their stay in, the UK in order to pursue their education and find graduate work opportunities.
Our barristers are experts in the immigration options for students and graduates and will guide you through the complex Home Office rules and policies.
We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to students as part of a professional and friendly service
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