The Graduate route visa enables international students to apply for a 2 year visa, or 3 year for PhD students, to remain in the UK after successfully completing a degree at undergraduate or postgraduate level. The visa issued will be for 2 or 3 years from the date the UVKI decide your application. Students can apply following successful completion of their degree at Exam Board, they are not required to have attended a graduation ceremony.
Please be aware of the following that could impact your ability to apply for the Graduate route visa:
Extensions and/or resits
To be eligible to apply for the Graduate route visa students must apply within the UK whilst holding a valid Student visa having been successfully awarded a relevant qualification at Exam Board. Therefore, if extensions and/or resits delay your award date you may not be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route.
If your course end date is extended within your visa period, you will not be able to obtain a new CAS for an extension to your Student visa. In this case, you will need to ask your school/faculty when you will successfully complete at Exam Board to check if it will be before your visa expires.
If your course end date is extended beyond your visa period, you should contact us for advice as to whether you will be eligible for a new CAS to extend your Student visa. If you are granted a new Student visa to complete your course, you will still need to ensure that you will be awarded your relevant qualification at Exam Board before your new visa expires. If you are granted a new Student visa it will expire 4 months after the new course end date stated on your CAS, as the UKVI will grant you an additional 4 months after the end of the course as 'wrap up' time. Student Visas cannot confirm if you will be eligible to apply for the Graduate route visa if your study end date/award date is delayed as this will depend on when your course and new visa will end and when you will be made successful at Exam Board. Your school/faculty will be able to advise you when Exam Boards take place.
If your successful completion at Exam Board will be after your visa end date and you are not eligible for a new CAS to extend your Student visa, you will not be able to apply for the Graduate route visa unless your results can be published earlier than planned, before your current Student visa ends. You can ask your school/faculty if this is possible.
If you appeal a result or award and this delays you being successfully awarded a relevant qualification at Exam Board, you may not be eligible to apply for the Graduate route visa. If the appeal result is not heard before your visa expires you will not be able to apply for the Graduate route visa if you have not been awarded a relevant qualification. If you appeal an Exam Board outcome, you should contact us for advice.
If you are awarded a diploma or certificate instead of your degree you will not be eligible for the Graduate route visa as this is not considered a relevant qualification.
Marking and Assessment Boycott
For undergraduate students receiving exam results in July 2023 please see UG Exam Boards for timings of result for information about awards and when you can apply for the Graduate route visa.
You may be aware that some academic colleagues are currently involved in industrial action in the form of a Marking and Assessment Boycott. This is a national issue that is affecting Universities across the United Kingdom.
The University is monitoring the situation closely and will seek to mitigate the impact of the marking and assessment boycott wherever possible. Not all members of staff will be taking part in the boycott and only staff who are members of the University College Union (UCU) are able to take part. Staff who are not involved in industrial action will be prioritising marking and assessment.
We do not know the impact at this time but every effort is being made to ensure that your student experience is not adversely affected. We are expecting that your results will be available in time for you to apply for a Graduate route visa before your current Student visa expires (four months after the end of your course).
British universities including Bristol which are affected by the boycott are in touch with UKVI to consider the impact of this industrial action and any updates regarding the Graduate route. We will publish any further details here.
Please continue to engage fully with your studies and prepare for assessments as usual. You should submit coursework by the published dates. Exams are expected to operate normally and in line with the exams timetable. This industrial action does not affect teaching or the availability of University support services which are expected to operate as usual.
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To apply for the Graduate visa students must meet certain criteria:
Relevant qualification and successful completion reported to UKVI
- students must have completed the same course mentioned on their CAS. Your CAS was issued by the University to apply for your student visa. Therefore, please check that your CAS was issued for the course you are expecting to complete. There are some exceptions to this, please see UKCISA for details
- if you are awarded a diploma or certificate instead of your degree you will not be eligible for the Graduate route visa as this is not considered a relevant qualification
- students must have completed their course during their current student visa
- successful completion must have been reported to the UKVI by the University and applications can only be submitted after the University has notified the UKVI that students have successfully completed their course
- if you apply before this notification has been undertaken you risk your visa being refused. Notification can only happen after students have been made successful at an Exam Board. Student Visas will be emailing students once the notification has been made so that you know when you can submit an application.
Study in the UK requirement
- students are normally expected to undertake their studies in the UK to be eligible for the Graduate route. You must have studied in the UK for:
- Courses of 12 months or less – this includes one year Masters courses, even if your CAS was for just over 12 months – must have studied the whole course in the UK. Postgraduate taught students who take a dissertation module over the summer are expected to be studying in the UK during this period.
- Courses longer than 12 months – must have studied in UK for at least 12 months
This means that you are expected to be in the UK studying during term time, you are able to travel during vacation periods or on weekends. All postgraduate students are expected to be in study during the summer. Postgraduate Research students are entitled to 25 days annual leave per year in addition to University closure days and bank holidays. You should inform your supervisor of any intended holidays.
There are exceptions for distance learning undertaken between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2022 due to the pandemic.
You must hold a valid student visa
- you cannot switch to the Graduate route from any other type of visa
- if you have, or have previously had, a Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) visa you cannot apply for a Graduate visa
Check your student visa end date - check your visa end date to ensure that you have enough time on your student visa to allow you to successfully complete your course and receive our email notification (confirming that this has been reported to the UKVI) and that it allows you time to apply for the Graduate visa in the UK, as applications must be made in the UK whilst holding your student visa. When the UKVI grant visas they will give you a visa until your CAS course end date plus an additional 4 months, so undergraduate students' visas should expire in October and masters students' visas should expire in January. If you think you have the incorrect visa end date please contact us.
Additional requirement for students sponsored by a government or scholarship agency
Students who have been wholly sponsored (all your tuition fees and maintenance) by a government or international scholarship agency, will need a letter of consent from the sponsor to stay in the UK under this route. Those wholly sponsored by a University, do not require this.
You must apply in the UK
Applications will be £715 and you will also be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) at £624 per year of visa that you are applying for i.e. 3 years for PhD students, 2 years for other students.
Eligibility for dependants is restricted to those who are already in the UK as dependants of the student with the exception of babies born in the UK during the Student's last student visa period. Please see UKCISA for more details.
When you can apply for the Graduate route visa
The earliest you can apply is after your successful completion has been reported to the UKVI by the University before applying for the Graduate visa. If you apply before this notification has been undertaken you risk your visa being refused. Notification can only happen after students have been made successful at an Exam Board. Student Visas will email students once the notification has been made so that you know when you can submit an application. In most cases it will be approximately 2 weeks after the Exam Board.
You must apply whilst your Student visa is valid so you must apply before your Student visa expires. As long as you apply before your current visa expires you remain in the UK legally until the outcome of your Graduate route visa appilcation even if your Student visa expires during the processing period.
Before you apply for the Graduate route visa, you can travel and return to the UK at any time on your Student visa before you apply for the Graduate route visa provided you have not received an email from the University confirming notification of early completion of your course to the UKVI (e.g. you studied an MEng course and exited early with a BEng or you completed your PhD early). However, once you have applied for the Graduate route visa you cannot leave the UK until you have received the outcome of your application otherwise your visa application is withdrawn as a result. The standard visa processing time is 8 weeks to receive a decision.
Timings of results following Exam Boards:
UG Exam Boards
Results should be available at the end of July. If you appeal your result or have resits or have extended your studies please check with your school/faculty which Exam Board you will receive your results at, it is possible that you will not have your results in July. If you are submitting assessments or resitting exams in the August reassessment period, it is possible you will be awarded in late September and can be reported then, but you should confirm that with the school/faculty.
Our reports to the UKVI regarding successful completion for undergraduate students are likely to be at the beginning of August.
For undergraduate students receiving exam results in July 2023, if you receive:
An award as normal
The University will report your degree completion to UKVI to support a Graduate visa application. You will receive an email from Student Visas confirming this.
A preliminary award
The University will report your degree completion to UKVI to support a Graduate visa application. You will receive an email from Student Visas confirming this.
As your degree has not been awarded, the University cannot report you to UKVI as eligible for the Graduate Route. However, if you would like to apply for the Graduate route visa, please remember that this can be done at any point in the UK before your Student visa expires. Your visa should not expire until the end of October 2023, so you should wait to see if you receive your award before your visa is due to expire. If you are awarded and this is reported to UKVI before your visa expires you will be able to apply for the Graduate route visa. You must apply before your visa expires.
If in October, you have still not received your results and your Student visa is about to expire, the UKVI will consider exercising discretion and place a hold on any Graduate route visa application that is submitted online before results have been received, providing results are received within 8 weeks of the application being made.
If you are hoping to apply under this discretion please note:
- you can only rely on the UKVI considering holding your application if your Student visa is about to expire, so if your visa expires at the end of October you should not apply until just before your visa expires in October
- you must apply before your visa expires, do not apply after your visa expires otherwise you will be in the UK as an overstayer i.e. someone without legal permission to be in the UK
- if you do not receive your results within 8 weeks of submitting your online application, your application is at risk of refusal.
- the above is why it is vital to leave it as late as possible, but before your visa expires, to apply for the Graduate route visa if you are in this position.
PGT Exam Boards
Results should be available in November/December. If you appeal your result or have resits or have extended your studies please check with your school/faculty which Exam Board you will receive your results at, it is possible that you will not have your results in November/December.
Our reports for postgraduate taught students are likely to be mid December.
PGR Exam Boards
Dates can be found on our website. Your supervisor should be able to discuss with you which Exam Board will be applicable for your studies. Your viva must take place before the deadline for the submission of examiners' reports and the reports must be sent to the Exams Office by the deadline for you to be awarded at that board. If that's unlikely to happen in your case, please contact us for advice.
Timings of our reports to the UKVI
- We expect to make the reports to the UKVI within 3 weeks of students being made successful at exam boards. If you know you have been awarded your degree but do not hear from the Student Visa Compliance team within 3 weeks, please contact us to check if a report has been made. If your visa is expiry date is imminent, please contact us sooner.
- If you think you will receive your results after your visa has expired, please read the section 'What if your Student permission expires before you receive your results?' on the UKCISA website.
Application process and visa status - digital status and BRP
Applications must be submitted within the UK. Applicants will be able to submit biometrics through an UKVI:ID check app rather than attending a biometric centre. Applicants upload their own documents and complete a live scan (similar to a 'selfie') and receive digital status if their application is successful. If you are unable to use the app, you will still be able to complete the application process by attending a biometrics centre to enrol your biometrics and upload your documents.
Many applicants will only require a valid passport (or travel document) and previous BRP card. There will be no maintenance or English requirement. You will not require a paper document providing successful completion of your course, the University report to the UKVI will prove successful completion.
Applications will take approximately 8 weeks to be processed, during which time you cannot travel outside the UK otherwise your application will be withdrawn. Decisions will be received by email which will confirm your digital status and will include a PDF of your decision letter. Some nationals, known as visa nationals, will also receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
Work permitted on the Graduate visa
Graduate visa holders are able to stay and work full or part-time, or look for work, at any skill level in most types of employment and self-employment except as a professional sportsperson and as a doctor or dentist in training.
Whilst your application is pending, as long as you submitted your visa application before your visa expired, then you will be able to work under your Student visa conditions. This means that you can work full-time, but not in a permanent full-time vacancy and you cannot be self-employed or engage in business activity, work as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach) or work as an entertainer, if you made your most recent Student visa application before 6 April 2022. However, if you made your most recent Student visa application on or after 6 April 2022 you can work full-time in a permanent role after your have submitted your Graduate visa application, but you must wait until you receive your Graduate route visa before you can work self-employed or as an entertainer.
Remaining in the UK after the Graduate visa
This route will not be extendable and is not a direct route to settlement, but visa holders may be able to switch into Skilled Worker route at any point during their Graduate visa. Please see UKCISA for more information about the Skilled Worker route, which allows dependants, as well as other working visas.
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