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The Graduate visa route explained

The Graduate visa route explained

by Peter Jackson

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

Not only is the UK a great place to receive a world-class education, you can also get valuable work experience and add some of the world's biggest brands to your CV in the process. The Graduate visa route is designed to help you build a life and a career in the UK after university. However, it does not count towards settlement status.

In our blog, we’ve explained the latest news surrounding the Graduate visa route.


What is the Graduate visa?

The Graduate visa is available to international students who have a valid student visa at the time of application, and have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above.
The visa allows you to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for two years after you have graduated. PhD graduates will be able to stay for three years.

The new visa route launched on 1 July 2021. This means any students who graduate after this date are eligible to apply, including students who have already started their course. 


What happens after the time period is up?

Once the two or three years are up, if you don’t move on to a Skilled Work visa, you will be able to go home having benefitted from a great professional and personal experience - which will have built your employability back home.
However, if you do choose to stay in the UK, you will be able to switch on to a Skilled Work visa once you have found a suitable job.

If you haven't found a job within this time, unfortunately you can’t extend the two years.


If I want to take the Graduate route, do I need to make a new visa application?

Yes, this does require a new visa application.

You need to make the application from the UK, and pay a visa fee of £700 on top of the Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 every year. 

In order to apply, you need to have studied your course in the UK for at least 12 months or the full length of your course, whichever is shorter. You also need to know the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) that you used for your most recent application. 


I’m a current student but couldn't study in the UK because of Covid. What about me? 

Due to Covid-19, the UK government put temporary measures in place to help students who couldn't travel because of the pandemic and disrupted travel, and who were studying via distance learning.

If you started your studies in autumn 2021, or are due to start in spring 2022, you have until 6 April 2022 to enter the UK as a student and complete your studies in the UK, to be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa. 


You can find more information about this visa route on this government fact sheet.