Graduate Route

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:

To apply for the Graduate visa students must meet certain criteria:

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visa you cannot leave the UK until you have received the outcome of your application otherwise your visa application is withdrawn as a result.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:

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.

For further information:

Please visit the UKCISA website and the UKVI website

Additional information

For further information, please refer to the websites below: 

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