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The Graduate visa explained

The Graduate visa explained

by Peter Jackson

On 1 July 2021, the UK's Graduate visa opened for applications. But what could this mean for you?

In this blog, we've taken a look at how the visa could help you build a life and a career in the UK after university.


What is the Graduate visa?

Not only is the UK a great place to receive a world-class education, but you can also get valuable work experience here and add working with some of the world's biggest brands to your CV in the process.
The Graduate visa means you can make the most of that opportunity because it allows you to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK for two years after you have graduated. PhD graduates can stay for three years after graduation.
The visa is available to international students who have a valid Student visa at the time of application. It does not count towards settlement status.

Because the new visa launched on 1 July 2021, any students who graduate after this date are eligible to apply. 


If I want to apply for a Graduate visa, do I need to make a new application?

Yes, this does require a new visa application. You'll need to apply online and make the application while you are in the UK.

As part of your application, you will be asked to supply supporting documents - such as a valid passport and your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number.

You will also have to pay an application fee of £8225; this is on top of the Immigration Health Surcharge of £1,035 for each year you will be in the UK. 


How long do I need to be in the UK before I can apply?

In order to apply, you need to be in the UK and have studied your course for either: 

  • at least 12 months, if your course’s total length is more than 12 months
  • the total length of your course, if its total length is shorter than 12 months

The rules may be different if you couldn't study in the UK because of Covid-19 - so, check here to be sure.


What happens after the time period is up?

You can't extend the Graduate visa so, once the two or three years are up, you will be able to go home having benefitted from a great professional and personal experience.
If you are in work, you could switch to the Skilled Worker visa. You will need to meet the eligibility criteria for this, but if you do, you can stay in the UK for up to fve years. This does contribute to settlement status.
If you don't meet the eligibility criteria, other work visas are available. Find out more here.

We hope you have found this blog post useful. You can find more information about the Graduate visa and apply on GOV.UK.