The Graduate visa is for graduates who want to work, or look for work in the UK. The visa is granted for two years if you have completed an undergraduate or masters level course, and three years for PhD or other doctoral qualifications.
The government has published a comprehensive guide for international students looking to apply to the Graduate route, including eligibility, how to apply, accessing your immigration status (eVisa) and conditions of the route.
What you can do
You can do all the following with the Graduate visa.
Work and look for work
With this visa you can use the time in the UK to look for work and you do not need to have a job offer to be eligible to apply. You will also be able to work in any job with no restriction on the number of hours you can work (including self-employed and voluntary work). The only exception to this is that you cannot work as a professional sportsperson.
Switch into the Skilled Worker visa
If you have been offered a job that meets the Skilled Worker criteria, you can switch to this route. Please see the gov.uk web pages for more information about the Skilled Worker criteria.
You can study in the UK with the Graduate visa and this can be both full-time and part-time study. The only exception to this is where where you are studying with an education provider who also holds a Student visa sponsor license, and the course you are studying meets the requirements for the Student visa. In this case, you must secure a Student visa to study. If any study you are doing whilst in the UK requires ATAS clearance, you must obtain this prior to starting any studies.
Apply with dependants
If you already have dependants here with you in the UK, and they have a Student dependant visa, you can apply for a Graduate dependant visa for them. They will need to apply either at the same time as yourself, or after your Graduate visa has been granted.
What you can't do
You cannot do the following with the Graduate visa:
- claim public funds
- extend the visa or apply for the visa more than once
- work as a professional sportsperson
- apply with dependants where your dependants are not already in the UK with a Student dependant visa
- study for a course that meets the Student visa requirements at an institution that also holds a Student visa sponsor license
To be eligible to apply for this visa, you must:
- be in the UK - you cannot apply from overseas
- be in the UK on a Student visa - you cannot switch to this route with any other visa type
- have successfully completed a bachelor's level course or higher (this must be the course for which your current Student visa was issued for)
- have been studying at a UK higher education provider with a track record of compliance (the University of Bath meets this definition)
- not have previously had a Graduate visa or a Doctorate Extension Scheme visa
You do not need sponsorship for this visa and you can apply even if you do not have a job offer. Please note, the Graduate visa is not a route to settlement.
Completing your studies earlier than expected
If you finish your course earlier than the course end date that was listed on your Confirmation of Acceptance of studies (CAS), this will normally result in your Student visa being shortened in line with your new course end date. Consequently, this can impact when you need to apply for the Graduate visa. Please contact us as soon as possible if you have completed your course early so that we can advise you.
Re-sits and academic appeals
If you have not yet completed your studies as you have re-sits to complete or you are going through an academic appeals, you will not be eligible for the Graduate visa until you have successfully completed your studies and the University has reported this to the Home Office.
In this case, you may be able to extend your Student visa to allow more time to complete your course before you are eligible for the Graduate visa. In all cases, please contact us as soon as you know you have repeats or resits so we can advise you.
Repeating a full academic year
If you are repeating an entire academic year (including attending all teaching and submitting assessments), you can normally extend your Student visa for the repeat year. Please note, you will not be eligible for the Graduate visa until you have successfully completed your course.
Repeating individual assessments
If your re-assessments can be completed within the validity of your current Student visa, we can issue a CAS to extend your Student visa as long as the University can meet the Student visa sponsor requirements and your department update your course end date on SAMIS. The new course end date must be before your current Student visa expires.
The Student visa extension should then allow enough time for your department to mark your re-assessments and award your degree. Assuming your degree is awarded, you will then be eligible for the Graduate visa after the University has reported to the Home Office that you have successfully completed your course.
If your re-assessments cannot be completed within the validity of your current Student visa, we are unlikely to be able to issue a new CAS for you to extend your Student visa as we will not be able to meet the Student visa sponsor requirements. In this case, you are unlikely to be eligible for the Graduate visa and will need to ensure you have left the UK or switched into a different immigration category before your Student visa expires.
Exit awards and academic appeals
If you are receiving an exit award (either PGDip or PGCert), unfortunately you will not be eligible for the Graduate visa.
If you are not satisfied with your academic results and are considering making an academic appeal, please inform us as a matter of urgency. In doing so, please be aware that the University may withdraw the report to the UKVI, which will make you ineligible to apply for Graduate Route until your academic appeal is concluded.
How to apply
When to apply
You cannot apply until you have successfully completed your course and the University has reported this to the Home Office. We will notify you by email after we have reported to the Home Office that you have successfully completed your course (this will not be until after you have received your degree results).
You do not have to apply straight away after receiving the notification that the University has reported your course completion to the Home Office. However, your Student visa must still be valid at the point you apply. This means that your window for applying for the graduate visa is after the University has reported your course completion to the Home Office, but before your current Student visa expires.
Cost of the application
The cost of the application is £822. You also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for each year the visa will be granted (currently £1,035 per year). You need to scan your identify documents and fill in an online application form, pay for the application and IHS, provide any relevant documents, and provide your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph).
Documents for your application
You need the following documents:
- Student Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card or visa
You do not need to provide any financial evidence, but if you have been financially sponsored by a Government or international scholarship agency covering both fees and living costs within the 12 months before you apply, you must provide written consent from your financial sponsor.
After you have applied
You will normally get a decision on your application within eight weeks. Whilst your application is pending, you will need to remain in the UK. If you travel outside of the UK before the visa is granted, your application may be withdrawn.
As long as you submit your application before your Student visa expires, you can remain in the UK whilst you are waiting for a decision on your Graduate visa. This is the case even if your Student visa expires whilst you are still waiting for the decision.
If you applied for your most recent Student visa before 06 April 2022, you will need to wait for your Graduate visa to be granted before you can begin working on a full-time permanent contract.
If you applied for your most recent Student visa on or after 06 April 2022, after you have submitted your Graduate visa application, you can begin working on a full-time permanent contract even while you are waiting for the visa to be granted.
After your Graduate visa is granted, you can work in line with the full conditions of your Graduate visa (including self-employment).
After your Graduate visa expires
The Graduate visa will be granted for two or three years from the decision date (depending on the course you have completed). In order to remain working in the UK after your Graduate visa expires, you will need to apply to switch into a different working visa category. Please see our working after your studies guide for information on other working visa categories.