What is the ‘Graduate visa route’? 

The Graduate Visa route is one of the latest developments in immigration law. The Graduate Visa route opened to international students on 1 July 2021. The Graduate Visa allows international students to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing a course in the UK. 

What are the eligibility requirements for the Graduate visa?

The eligibility requirements for the Graduate visa are as follows:

  • The applicant must be in the UK;
  • The applicant must currently have a student visa or tier 4 (general) student visa;
  • The applicant must have studied a bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree or any other eligible course in the UK for a minimum period of time; and
  • The applicant must have successfully completed the course. 

The Home Office guidance states that the applicant will need to have a track record of compliance with the Government’s immigration requirements to apply for the Graduate visa. You cannot apply if you previously had permission on a Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES).

How do I apply?

An application for the Graduate visa can be made online. You must submit the application in the UK. 

When should I apply?

The application for a Graduate visa should be made before your student visa or tier 4 (general) student visa expires. The application can be made once your education provider informs you that you have successfully completed the course. This can be before graduation or before you have received your certificate. 

Can dependent partners and children stay in the UK on a Graduate visa?

Dependent partners and children who have permission as dependents of the main applicant on a student visa or tier 4 (general) student visa can apply for further permission on a Graduate visa. New dependents will not be eligible except where a child is born in the UK during your student visa, tier 4 (general) student visa or Graduate visa. Dependent partners and children must make an application in the UK. 

What documents do I need to provide?

The documents required for the Graduate visa include:

  • Valid passport or other travel documents that show your identity and nationality;
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP);
  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number;
  • Proof of your relationship with your dependent partner and children; and
  • Letter of consent from your scholarship or sponsorship. 

What are the fees?

The application fee is £700 and the healthcare surcharge is £624 for each year that you are in the UK. The application fee will automatically be reduced to £55 for CESC nationals. There is no requirement to provide proof of funds. 

Are there any remote learning and COVID-19 concessions?

There are remote learning and COVID-19 concessions available to international students due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. Many international students have had to study remotely or outside the UK. It will be possible for you to apply for a Graduate visa if you return to the UK by the following deadlines:

  • If your course is 12 months or less, you started your course in 2020 or Spring 2021 and you are studying remotely then you must enter the UK on or before 27 September 2021 or when your student visa or tier 4 (general) student visa expires (whichever is sooner).
  • If your course is 12 months or less and you started your course in 2020 or 2021 and have existing permission to study as a student and have already returned to the UK during the period of permission then you can apply for a Graduate visa before your student visa or tier 4 (general) student visa expires. 
  • If your course is 12 months or less, you start your course in Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022 and you will be studying remotely then you must enter the UK by 6 April 2022.
  • If your course is more than 12 months and you are studying remotely then you must return to the UK before your student visa or tier 4 (general) student visa expires. You will be eligible for a Graduate visa if you are abroad due to remote learning between 24 January 2020 and 6 April 2022. 
  • If you are on an articulated degree and are sponsored on a student visa or tier 4 (general) student visa then your course will be treated as being less than 12 months and you must use the deadline for students on a course of less than 12 months.

How long will it take to receive a decision?

It will usually take about 8 weeks to receive a decision. You can stay in the UK while you wait for a decision. If you leave the UK or the common travel area then your application for a Graduate visa will be automatically withdrawn. You can work while you wait for a decision. An eVisa will be issued if your application for a Graduate visa is successful. This will prove your right to live and work in the UK.

How can NA Law Solicitors help?

Our team of experienced immigration solicitors are here to help you navigate the complex Home Office rules and policies. Arrange a consultation with us today to increase your chances of a successful Graduate visa application.

FAQs

 

What are the eligible courses?

The international student can study a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, PhD or doctorate, the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), the Legal Practice Course (LPC), a law conversion course, the Bar Practice Course (BPC) or a foundation course in medicine or dentistry in the UK for a minimum period of time. 

What is the minimum period of study in the UK?

The minimum period of study in the UK is at least 12 months or the full length of your course (whichever is shorter). If your course is more than 12 months then you must have spent at least 12 months studying your course in the UK on a student visa or tier 4 (general) student visa. If your course is less than 12 months then you must have spent the full duration of your course in the UK on a student visa or tier 4 (general) student visa. Permitted study abroad activities or time spent abroad during official vacations will be included in the minimum period.

What can I do and not do with a Graduate visa?

The Graduate visa will allow you to work in the majority of jobs, look for a job, be self-employed, undertake voluntary work and temporarily travel outside the UK. The graduate visa does not allow you to claim most benefits or state pension and work as a professional sportsperson or coach. 

Can I study on a Graduate visa?

The ability to study is restricted on a Graduate visa. You cannot study a course which could be sponsored on a student visa. However, some courses are permitted on a Graduate visa. 

Do I need to be sponsored?

The Graduate visa is unsponsored. This means that the applicant will not need a job offer or certificate of sponsorship to apply for the Graduate visa. There are no minimum salary requirements, skill level requirements or limits on the number of international students that can apply. The Graduate visa will enable international students to work flexibly and change jobs easily.

What is the length of permission for a Graduate visa?

The Graduate visa allows international students to stay in the UK for 2 years after successfully completing a course in the UK and 3 years for successfully completing a PhD or doctorate in the UK. You cannot request to shorten the length of permission. 

Can I extend the length of permission for a Graduate visa?

The length of permission for a Graduate visa cannot be extended. Note that you can only be granted a Graduate visa once. You may be able to switch to a skilled worker visa during your Graduate visa or before your Graduate visa expires. 

Does the graduate visa lead to settlement?

The Graduate visa does not lead to settlement but on the Graduate visa you can switch to other work-based routes which can lead to settlement. 

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