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Graduate visa guide: All you need to know

Jul 05, 2021
Last Updated on May 21, 2024

Against the backdrop of the UK’s exit from the European Union (“Brexit”), there has been great anticipation for the new Graduate visa. The route has been created to allow students, who have finished their graduate studies in the UK, to continue living and working in the UK.

On 1 July 2021, the much-awaited Graduate visa route was launched. This route opens up many opportunities to graduates who are looking to continue their stay in the UK, and secure work opportunities.

The Graduate visa route is a points-based immigration visa route. Graduates need to meet the minimum points requirement, as specified in the Immigration Rules – Appendix Graduate.

Let us look at the eligibility criteria, process, and benefits of the Graduate visa route.

Basic eligibility for a Graduate visa?

You are a foreign national who has completed their undergraduate or postgraduate degree (or another qualifying course of study). 

You hold leave as a Student or Tier 4 (General) migrant.

You have completed your studies from an institution which is registered as a Student sponsor with a track record of compliance and you have last been sponsored by that institution. 

You are present in the UK while making the application, as this application cannot be made from outside the UK (i.e. entry clearance).

Educational requirements needed for the Graduate the Visa

To secure a Graduate visa, you must have completed an eligible course of study. 

Your education provider (sponsor) must also be a higher education provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance. The Home Office will check their records to ensure that the sponsor meets this requirement at the date of your application.

You will need to provide your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) letter from your sponsor, so the Home Office can verify your course completion date and establish that you meet the relevant requirement.

Course eligibility

To be eligible for the Graduate visa, your qualification must be one of the following:

  1. a UK Bachelor’s degree 
  2. a UK Postgraduate degree (e.g. Master’s or PhD/Doctorate)

You may also qualify if you have completed any of the following:

  1. a) a law conversion course validated by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales; or

(b) the Legal Practice Course in England and Wales, the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland; or

(c) the Bar Practice Course in England and Wales, or the Bar Course in Northern Ireland; or

(d) a foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry; or

(e) a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE); or

(f) a professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public authority.

Duration of your course pursued in the UK.

If your course lasts less than 12 months, you must have studied in the UK for the full duration of the course. If your course is longer than 12 months, you must have studied for at least 12 months in the UK.

Students temporary Covid concession for distance learning

Concessions take into account the impact of the COVID-19 on face-to-face study. Students who meet the below requirements are exempt from meeting the “minimum duration of study within the UK” requirements.

  • Students who began their course in 2020 and entered the UK on or before 21 June 2021  and complete that course of study in the UK with permission as a Student; or
  • Students who began their course in 2021 and entered the UK before 27 September 2021  and complete that course of study in the UK with permission as a Student. 

Any period of distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 as part of a course of study lasting longer than 12 months (whilst you held permission as a Student) will be permitted.

What are the chances of Settlement with a UK Graduate visa?

Leave to Remain will be granted for three years for those who have completed a PhD or doctorate. For all other relevant qualifications, the period of leave to remain granted will be two years.

This visa route does not lead to Settlement. 

However, you may become eligible to switch into certain other visa categories, such as the Skilled Worker route, which are a route to settlement. 

Advantages of having a Graduate visa

The UK is a growing economy, with globally recognised job opportunities. With a Graduate visa, you have free access to the UK job market during the validity of the visa and the opportunity to find a job that suits you and advances your career and long term goals.

Application process and fees

You must use the Home Office website to make an online application. You will have the opportunity to upload copies of your supporting documents to an online portal. You will also need to submit biometric data (photo and fingerprints).

The Graduate visa application costs £700 (plus a £19.20 biometric enrolment fee). The immigration health surcharge is £624 per person per year that the visa is issued.


The Graduate visa route is a wonderful opportunity for adult students to stay in the UK after their studies and seek training and employment opportunities. This flexible visa route is designed to support the government’s aim of ‘building back better’ in a post COVID world. 

So what are you waiting for? 

Choose the right immigration experts for a successful application

A Y & J Solicitors are highly successful in providing bespoke immigration services, helping clients achieve their immigration needs. We are ready to support you with your Graduate visa application.

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