The Graduate Worker Route 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
If you have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate Masters degree you will be issued with a 2 year GWR visa. If you have completed a PhD you will be issued with a 3 year GWR visa.
To meet the eligibility criteria for the GWR, you must:
- have successfully been awarded your degree and the College must have confirmed this to UKVI
- have studied in the UK on a Tier 4 / student route visa
- have a valid Tier 4 / student route visa at the time you are applying
- be making the GWR 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.
Please note: you cannot apply for the GWR if you have previously held permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
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 GWR if you have previously held permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
If you are not eligible for the Graduate route, 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 GWR visa. Once you have been issued with your GWR 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.
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.
COVID-19 and Graduate Visa eligibility
Studies commenced in 2020
If you began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 via distance learning there was a deadline to enter the UK by 27 September 2021. If you did not arrive in the UK by this date, it is unlikely that you will be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa. Investigate the alternative work options available.
Students who began a one-year Masters programme in 2020, who have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and who have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to make a Graduate application as long as they are present in or return to the UK before the end date of their visa.
Studies commenced in 2021
Students who commence a course of 12 months or less in Autumn 2021 via distance learning from overseas must enter the UK no later than 30 June 2022 and complete that course of study in the UK with permission as a Student to be eligible for the Graduate Route.
Final year undergraduate / PhD students studying remotely due to COVID
Students on a longer programme (undergraduate degree or PhD) who are completing their course this academic year will be eligible to apply provided:
- You make the GWR visa application in the UK
- You have valid Tier 4 / Student Route permission at the point you make the application
- You successfully complete your course and are awarded your degree
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 GWR to UKVI before you apply. Once this has been done you will be sent an email notifying you that you may proceed with the visa application.
How to apply
Once the College has confirmed your eligibility to UKVI, we will email you with the information you need to make the GWR visa application. This will be very shortly after your formal degree award date.
Deadline to apply
You must apply for your GWR 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 Worker visa
- Seek sponsorship from an employer for a Skilled Worker visa.
- Leave the UK
The visa application fee will be £700. You will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year of the visa (2 years for UG and Masters graduates, 3 years for PhD graduates).
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 GWR 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 GWR.
- "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 GWR visa.
GWR 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 UKVI. Therefore, you would not be eligible for the graduate route 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 route application is pending, your Student visa work conditions apply. You cannot work on a self-employed basis until your Graduate route visa has been granted.