The Graduate Visa allows international graduates to remain in the UK to work/look for work once their degree has been awarded. Please read our guidance carefully before deciding to make an application under this route.
Please note: you cannot make an application under this route until you have been awarded your degree and the College has confirmed your eligibility to UKVI. Please read the FAQS below for more information.
Length of the visa
- Undergraduate and postgraduate Masters students will be issued with a 2 year visa.
- PhD students you will be issued with a 3 year visa.
To meet the eligibility criteria , you must:
- have successfully been awarded your degree and the College must have confirmed this to the UKVI
- have studied in the UK on a Tier 4 / Student visa
- have a valid Tier 4 / Student visa at the time you are applying
- be making the Graduate visa application from within the UK
- have completed the entirety of your degree in the UK if you are studying a Masters course or a minimum of 12 months in the UK, if you are studying an Undergraduate degree or PhD*
*except for permitted study abroad programmes or when distance learning has been necessary due to Covid-19.
If you have received any official financial scholarship during your studies then you will need to check the conditions of your award in relation to remaining in the UK before you apply under this or any other UK visa route. You will require written permission from your official financial sponsor that you are allowed to remain in the UK for any visa application if you have been funded within the last 12 months.
Ineligible for the Graduate visa
You cannot apply for the Graduate visa if you have previously held permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
If you are not eligible for the Graduate visa, then the Skilled Worker visa may be an option.
Yes. Anyone already in the UK as your dependant will be able to apply to extend their visa in line with yours.
You must bring your dependants with you to the UK before you switch to the Graduate visa. Once you have been issued with your Graduate visa, you will not be able to bring any new dependants to the UK.
This is an unsponsored route to allow you to work or look for work in the UK.
In general, you will be able to do most types of work at any level (including self-employment). However, graduates on this route will continue to be restricted from being employed as a professional sportsperson or as a doctor or dentist in training.
If you applied for your Student visa before 6 April 2022: You can start work on a full-time basis, however, on a temporary contract until your Graduate visa is granted.
If you applied for your Student visa after 6 April 2022: You can start working in a permanent job as soon as you apply for your Graduate visa and whilst it is pending.
Study not permitted
This visa is given to enable you to work in the UK. You are permitted to undertake 'supplementary' study but only at an institution that is not a Student Route Sponsor. You cannot study a course that would usually require sponsorship under the Student route.
Graduates will be able to switch into other routes in line with the wider approach to switching when applying for a visa inside the UK. This will include the ability to switch into work routes if you are able to meet the requirements.
When to apply
You must have been awarded your degree before you can submit a visa application. Award dates are normally as follows:
- UG students: 1 August
- Masters students: 1 November
- PhD students: the first of the month after you submit your final corrected thesis
The College is required to confirm your eligibility for the Graduate visa to the UKVI before you apply. Once this has been done, the Visa Compliance team will send you an email notifying you that you may proceed with the visa application.
How to apply
Once the College has confirmed your eligibility to the UKVI, the Visa Compliance team will email you with the information you need to make the Graduate visa application. This will be very shortly after your formal degree award date.
Deadline to apply
You must apply for your Graduate visa before your Student visa expires.
Once you reach your visa expiry date / the 4 month period after your course end date (whichever is sooner) you must either:
- Apply for a Graduate visa
- Seek sponsorship from an employer for a Skilled Worker visa.
- Leave the UK
Visa application fee: £715.
Immigration Health Surcharge fee:
- Currently £624 per year of the visa (2 years for UG and Masters graduates, 3 years for PhD graduates).
- From 16 January 2024: the fee will increase to £ 1035 per year of the visa.
2-year Graduate visa IHS cost will be £ 2070 and the 3-year Graduate visa IHS cost will be £ 3105.
Job application questions
Job application forms will ask questions such as
- "Are you eligible to work in the UK?" or
- "Do you have the right to work in the UK?"
You can answer YES to the above questions as once you have your Graduate visa you can work and the visa is not connected to a specific job nor a specific employer. You should add information in a cover letter or on the application form about the Graduate.
- "Do you need be sponsored to work in the UK?"
You can answer NO to the above question as you do not need sponsorship from an employer to work whilst you are on your Graduate visa.
Graduate visa and re-sit exams
The rules concerning re-sit exams are complex . It is likely that you will need to contact us for individual visa advice. The key question to ask, is whether you will be awarded your qualification before your current Student visa expires.
If your re-sit is within 60 days of your visa expiry date:
If your resit takes place within 60 days of your current visa expiry date, you can extend your student visa to cover the resit exam plus an additional 4 month wrap up period. It is your responsibility to check with your department when your results will be expected and your degree awarded – if it cannot be awarded within this timeframe you will not be eligible.
If your re-sit more than 60 days after your visa expiry date:
If you are required to re-sit without attendance, you are classed as ‘not required to enrol’ on the student record system. Students with this status cannot be sponsored for a visa by the College as we are unable to meet our monitoring and reporting obligations to the UKVI. Therefore, you would not be eligible for the Graduate visa as you wouldn’t have valid student immigration permission.
Working once the course has finished
Your Student / Tier 4 visa is likely to continue for 4 months after your course end date. This is called the ‘wrap-up period’. Upon reaching your formal course end date (in the case of PhD students completing your academic work, i.e. submitting your dissertation/thesis including final corrections) you can start working full time on a temporary contract up until your visa expiry date or a maximum period of four months (whichever is sooner).
While your Graduate visa application is pending, your Student visa work conditions apply. You cannot work on a self-employed basis until your Graduate visa has been granted.
High Potential Individual Visa
The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa is similar to the Graduate visa for applicants who have been awarded a qualification by an eligible overseas university within the last 5 years. Please refer to the list of eligible institutions.
You can only apply for either the HPI or Graduate visa once. You cannot hold an HPI visa and at a later date also apply for the Graduate visa.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have been told by my academic department that I have passed my course. Can I now apply for a Graduate Visa?
In order to be eligible for the Graduate Visa, the College is required to confirm your eligibility to UKVI before you apply. The process for this is:
- Your academic department returns the results to the central Registry Team
- Your Student Record is updated to ‘awarded’
- The Visa Compliance Team run regular reports to pick up all ‘awarded’ records to check eligibility for the Graduate Visa. This includes ensuring the College has a record of your date of entry to the UK and that you have studied a course here for at least 12 months.
- When Visa Compliance confirm your eligibility to UKVI, they will email you to let you know this has been done and that you are now eligible to apply. The email will contain the CAS number you need to include on the Graduate Visa application.
- Please bear in mind that across College there are thousands of students being awarded at this time of year, so there is a delay between the date you are given your provisional results to the date your eligibility is confirmed to UKVI.
Do I need to be in the UK to apply for the Graduate Visa?
Yes. You must be in the UK to make this application and you must apply whilst you still hold a valid student visa that was issued for your qualifying course.
Do I need to have the Graduate Visa before my student visa expires?
No. You just need to have submitted the new visa application in the UK before your current visa expiry date. Whilst your visa application is pending with UKVI, your student immigration status is extended under Section 3c of the Immigration Rules until a decision is made on your new application.
Can I travel out of the UK whilst my Graduate Visa application is pending?
No. You cannot leave the Common Travel Area (UK and Ireland) whilst a visa application is pending as it will void the application. You either need to travel and return to the UK before your current visa expires, and make your Graduate Visa application when you return, or you need to wait for the Graduate Visa application to be decided before travelling. You are permitted to leave the UK and re-enter on your current student visa at the end of your course.
Can I work on my student visa now my course has ended?
Yes, you can work full-time on a student visa at the end of your course, but only on a temporary basis whilst you hold student permission.
The terms under which an employer can employ an international student on a student visa are detailed in the employers guide on Right to Work checks at Employer's Guide to Righ to Work Checks (see page 46) which confirms:
‘Students who have the right to work are permitted to work full-time before their course starts, during vacations or during the period they hold permission for after they have competed their course.’
Whilst on a student visa you can only work full-time on a temporary basis – you cannot sign a permanent contract. So an employer would need to start you on a temporary contract initially until you apply for the Graduate Route visa when you can then switch into a permanent contract. You can start working in the permanent role as soon as your application for a Graduate Visa has been submitted – you do not need to wait for the outcome.