What is the Graduate Route? 

This Graduate visa route allows international students who have successfully completed a degree course to work in the UK without the need to be sponsored by an employer. 

  • 2-year visa if you have completed an undergraduate or masters degree 
  • 3-year visa if you have completed a PhD or other doctoral degree  

Graduates can look for work or undertake any work in the UK, including paid and unpaid employment, self-employment and engaging in business or any professional activity. The only restriction placed on a Graduate’s ability to work is a prohibition on working as a professional sportsperson or apply for most benefits (public funds). 

All international students who have successfully completed a degree course who have a Student (or Tier 4) visa that is current at the time of application are able to apply. 

How much does the Graduate Route visa application cost? 

The Graduate Route visa application fee is £822 (per person). In addition to the visa application fee, you will also be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £1,035 per year. The fee for dependants is the same as the main applicant. Therefore, the total cost of application (per person) will be:

  • 2-year visa: £822 (visa application fee) + 2,070 (IHS fee) = £2,892
  • 3-year visa (for PhD graduates): £822 (visa application fee) + £3,105 (IHS fee) = £3,927

For more detail, see the UKVI’s Gov.uk website.

Who is eligible? 

You can apply if: 

  • You have successfully completed an undergraduate, Masters or PhD degree or other doctoral qualification. Top-up courses are accepted. Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) are also accepted, but other PG diplomas and certificates are not. 
  • You are currently in the UK on a valid Student (or Tier 4) visa. If you have modules to re-sit or do not complete your course within the validity of your visa, this could affect your eligibility.  
  • You have studied in the UK for the previous 12 months.  
  • The University has informed the UKVI about your course completion.  
  • Sponsored students – if your course fees and/or living costs were paid you’re your government or scholarship agency within the previous 12 months, you will need a letter of consent from your sponsor. 

Resits or delays to your course completion 

You should plan the end of your studies carefully and aim to complete your course within the duration of your original student visa. If you need to repeat modules, re-sit exams, this may affect your eligibility for the Graduate route.  

For PhD students, the usual hurdles are delayed thesis submission, viva exams and outcomes. You should aim to submit your thesis several months prior to your ‘course end date’ to allow time for viva and corrections. 

In some cases the University may be able to issue you with another CAS to extend your student visa before your are eligible to apply for the Graduate route, however this isn’t always possible as your academic situation will determine if you will qualify for the scheme.  

If you have any questions about the scheme or your eligibility, attend an online drop-in session with the Immigration team. 

Study in the UK requirement 

You must have studied in the UK for a minimum period as set out in the table below: 

Total length of course 

Relevant period of Student permission granted during which all study took place in the UK (apart from permitted study abroad programmes) 

12 months or less 

Full duration of course 

Longer than 12 months 

At least 12 months 

 

There are concessions for students who have been affected by Covid-19. Please see UKVI’s Temporary concessions in response to Covid-19.

If my student visa is about to expire, can I make a “Fee Waiver” application to extend my stay in the UK until my course completion?

We strongly advise you not to do this. There is a misconception among some students, or they may receive incorrect advice, suggesting that they can request a fee waiver to extend their time in the UK until they receive their results from the University. However, it is likely that your fee waiver application will be refused by the UKVI. This is because the fee waiver assessment is only available for human rights-based applications and therefore relevant only when an applicant lacks adequate funds to cover the fee after addressing their essential living expenses. The UKVI have said that cases where fee waiver applications are made without merit, e.g. a fee waiver application based on destitution where the applicant knowingly does not fit the UKVI criteria for destitution, these applications could be deemed fraudulent.

Moreover, international students are required to be self-funding and need to show that they can support themselves whilst studying. This means you will be required to pay the Graduate Route application fee plus the immigration health surcharge fee and if you submit a fee waiver application claiming financial inability to apply, and subsequently apply for Graduate or Student visa paying the required fees, the Home Office is likely to refuse your application based on the grounds of deception. See also the advice from UKCISA on fee waiver applications.

Can “Top Up” students apply? 

As per the above table, if your Top-up course was less than 12 months long, you will be eligible to apply as long as you have spent all your time on this part of your course in the UK. 

How do I apply for the Graduate Route? 

You will apply online via the Gov.uk website 

The Home Office has advised us that they will re-use your biometric information so you will not have to submit new biometric details. 

Your application will be considered valid only when the University has notified the UKVI that you have successfully completed your degree. You must not submit your visa application before receiving an email from the Immigration team confirming that the University has informed the UKVI of your course completion. The email will also include the CAS number on which you completed your course.  

You have until the date your visa expires to make an application under the Graduate Route so please be patient as we are currently updating our IT systems to enable us to report this to the UKVI. For any queries, attend an online drop-in session with the Immigration team. 

Unfortunately, the university’s immigration team will not be able to assist you personally with the application. We will share more on this as and when further details are available. Keep checking this webpage for more information. 

Will I need a new CAS from the University? 

You do not need a new CAS to apply under the Graduate route, but you will need to provide the CAS number on which you have completed your course.  

Can I make my application from outside the UK? 

No. You MUST apply from within the UK only. 

I completed a master’s degree course in the UK on another visa category e.g. Dependant visa, can I apply for the Graduate route? 

You will not meet the requirement of the Graduate Route as you must be on a Student visa (or Tier 4) to be able to apply for the route. However, if you started a course lasting longer than 12 months (e.g. PhD) on a dependant visa and later on switched to Student (or Tier 4) visa on which you spent minimum 12 months in the UK, you will be eligible.  

I was previously granted visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme, can apply for the Graduate Route? 

You cannot apply for the Graduate Route. 

I was previously granted the old style post-study work visa 

Students who were previously granted visa on the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route, International Graduate Scheme (IGS) or the Future Talent Working in Scotland Scheme can apply for the Graduate route. 

When can I apply for the Graduate Route? 

The University is required to inform that you have successfully completed your course. The immigration team will email you when your course completion has been reported to the UKVI. You can then submit your Graduate Route application.  

Remember that you can submit your visa application at any time during the validity of your existing Student (or Tier 4) visa. 

Can my dependants (spouse/partner and children) apply with me? 

Only your existing dependants who have current dependant leave under your Student (or Tier 4) visa can apply with you as your dependants under the Graduate Route. You cannot apply for new dependants (e.g. living in your home country) under the Graduate Route. However, if you have a new-born child in the UK during your current Student or Tier 4 visa, they can apply as your dependant under the Graduate route. 

Dependants must apply via the specified form on the gov.uk website. 

Can I study whilst on a Graduate Route visa? 

Study is restricted as Graduate visa holders cannot study courses that would otherwise meet the requirements of the Student visa route. Please note this is also subject to Home Office’s academic progression requirement.

This means only short courses like English language courses; recreational courses, evening classes or online study is permitted.

There is no restriction in place for Graduate visa dependants, so they can study any course of their choice.

I started on a 12-month Masters course but have finished with a lower award. Am I eligible? 

No, your award must match the qualification on your CAS to be eligible for the Graduate Route. For example, if you started on an MSc course but were awarded a lower award classification e.g. a postgraduate diploma (PGDip) or postgraduate certificate (PGCert), you will not qualify for the Graduate route.  

Leaving an integrated PhD with a lower award 

If your CAS was issued for an integrated PhD but have successfully completed with a lower postgraduate qualification e.g. MPhil, you will be eligible for a 2-year Graduate visa. 

Leaving an integrated master’s programme with a bachelor’s qualification 

If your CAS was issued for an MEng but you have successfully completed with a BEng qualification, you will be eligible for a 2-year Graduate visa. 

I have finished my course without a work placement, am I eligible? 

If you started on an undergraduate or masters course including a work placement option and completed your course without a placement, you will still qualify to apply for the Graduate Route. 

Can the Graduate Route lead to settlement? 

The route will not lead to settlement, however students can move into another work-based route, such as the Skilled Worker route, which does lead to settlement. Further detail is available on UKCISA website

Where can I get more information? 

To keep up to date with the Graduate Route please continue to check this page and the UK Government website and Graduate visa UKVI guidance. 

For any queries with the immigration team, attend an online drop-in session.