Graduate Visa Route

An immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies.

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The UK Government has announced that this new visa route will launch from 1 July 2021 to allow international students on a Student visa to remain living and working in the UK after they graduate.

Please note that the UK Government has also confirmed that if you began your studies online due to Covid-19 in the Autumn term of 2020-21 academic year, you will still be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route provided you arrive in the UK by 21 June 2021 at the latest. Students with a course start date of either January or February 2021 will need to be in the UK by 27 September 2021.

The route will not need to be sponsored by a University and those completing an Undergraduate or Masters level course will be eligible for a 2-year visa and those graduating from a PhD level course will be eligible for a 3-year visa. The current Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) visa that is open to PhD students will be closed at the point the new Graduate Visa Route is introduced.

Eligibility criteria 

  • You need to be in the UK and on a valid Student visa at the point of graduation and when applying for the Graduate Route Visa.
  • Current students (who started in Autumn 2020) due to graduate from the summer of 2021, who are studying wholly online due to Covid-19 and wish to apply for the Graduate Route Visa, will only be eligible to apply if they enter the UK on or before the 21 June 2021. Students with a course start date of either January or February 2021 will need to be in the UK by 27 September 2021.
  • You will need to have successfully completed a course at Undergraduate level or above and it should be the course listed on your CAS
  • You will not need to meet any financial requirements for this visa route but there will be a visa application fee and you will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge at the appropriate rate when you apply
  • Your English language ability will have been assessed by way of successful completion of your degree programme
  • If you were fully financially sponsored for your studies you will need written permission from your official sponsor stating that they give their permission for you to remain living in the UK for the Graduate Route Visa.

Dependants

  • If you already have dependants in the UK on a Student dependant visa or will have by the time you become eligible for the Graduate Route Visa, then you will be able to apply for further leave for your dependants at the same time as applying for your Graduate Route Visa. Otherwise, unfortunately, you will not be able to apply to bring your dependants to the UK as part of your Graduate Route Visa application

Further study in the UK

  • Supplementary study in the UK will be permitted, but not at an institution with a Student Visa sponsor licence (i.e. Goldsmiths University)
  • You will not be able to apply for the Graduate Route Visa to use it for studies at a university, instead, you will need to apply for the Student visa category

We expect the Home Office to publish more detailed guidance in the updated Immigration Rules in Spring 2021 and we will then update this webpage when further information is available.

This page was last updated on 5 March 2021.