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What is the Graduate Visa?

If you have received higher education within the UK and wish to stay in the country following graduation, you may be able to through a Graduate Visa.

A Graduate Visa may also be referred to as the Graduate Immigration Route and Post-Study Work Visa. These terms all refer to the same programme, allowing international students to remain in the UK to seek work for two years following graduation.  Students at PhD level are granted an additional year to stay following their graduation for three years.

While Graduate Visas do not necessarily lead to settlement in all cases, in many cases, they can be the first step towards a work-based visa route once a suitable job has been secured.

Why Use Our Graduate Visa Solicitors

Our graduate visa lawyers have the expertise in applying for spouse and partner visas and will help you decide the right visa option and strategy by:

  • Making sure all the necessary documentary evidence is submitted.
  • Assisting you as you fill out your UK spouse visa application, guiding you through each section.
  • Creating you a strong letter of representation to accompany your application and sponsorship if required.
  • Coordinating with the Home Office until a decision is made.


The length of a Graduate Visa will depend on whether you are a Degree or PhD graduate. Degree graduates will be able to stay in the UK for two years, while PhD graduates can remain in the UK for three years following their studies. Your visa starts from the date your application is approved.

The conditions of a Graduate Visa are relatively simple. Firstly, you’ll be able to work in any sector or become self-employed, with no limitations on the kind of work you can do. You can also return to study, but this is only permitted in cases where that study does not meet the requirements for the Student Route visa.

You can only apply for and receive the Graduate Visa once, and you will not be eligible again if you complete further Degrees or PhDs in the UK to extend your stay.

The application fee for the Graduate Visa is a one-off cost of £700.  In addition, you’ll be required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge fee of £624 per year for every year you remain in the UK under the Graduate Visa.

If you would like to qualify for a Graduate Visa, you must meet the specific rules and requirements laid out by the UK Visas & Immigrations Department.  These requirements include:

  • You must have successfully completed a UK undergraduate degree or above that meets eligibility requirements.
  • You must have studied with a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.
  • You must hold the relevant student or tier 4 visa at the time of your application.
  • You cannot apply again if you’ve received a visa through the graduate route or Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) previously.
  • Having no fall for refusal defined under the general grounds for refusal in the UK.

Are you unsure whether you would be eligible for a Graduate Visa under these requirements? The best thing to do is speak to a legal professional our team are here to help with any queries you may have about the Graduate Visa application process.

You will be able to apply for a Graduate Visa if you have completed a UK undergraduate degree or higher-level qualification. This includes postgraduate degrees and PhDs. You may also be eligible if you have completed a professional course that requires study at a bachelor’s level or higher.

You will need to have studied in the UK for a minimum of 12 months to be eligible for the Graduate Visa. The study period itself will depend on the length of your course – for example, an undergraduate degree is typically over three years.

Due to the effects of COVID-19 and the global pandemic, specific regulations have been put in place for international students working online outside of the UK during this time. If students obtain a student visa and arrive in the UK before the end of their visa or by a specific date, concessions allow for the switch to the Graduate Immigration Route. These are as follows:

  • Study from Autumn 2020-Spring 2021: eligible to switch if you enter the UK by 27th September 2021
  • Study from Autumn 2021-Spring 2022: eligible to switch if you enter the UK by 6th April 2022

Graduate Visas allow successful applicants to work in the UK entirely flexibly, allowing graduates to search for and obtain work at any skill level with no salary requirement. Self-employment and the switching of jobs and careers are also allowed with no limitation.

Family members that are already in the UK with permission as your dependent will be able to extend their stay on your application to the Graduate Immigration Route.  However, this does not apply to new dependents entering the UK. The only exception to this rule is for dependent children born within the UK during student or graduate leave.

No sponsorship is required to apply for the Graduate Visa, so you will not need a job offer or a Certificate of Sponsorship to be eligible for this particular application.

There are no limits to how long you have to stay in the UK on a Graduate Visa. If you choose to, you can opt to leave the country at any time when your visa is in place. However, once your visa is expired, you will not be able to return without applying for a new and different form of visa.

If you are seeking help in your Graduate Visa application, our highly skilled immigration lawyers at Optimus Law are here for you.  Get in touch with our specialist legal team today to find out more about how we can support you in completing your application successfully.


Our Clients Say

If you are still not sure about choosing us, hear from our clients themselves.

Robina is a very reliable, helpful and experienced immigration solicitor in our area. I had a successful appeal with my Tier 1 applications with the help from Robina.

Laura Jayne

I’ve loved my experience with Optimus Law. Very friendly staff, easy to talk with, they follow up with you and keep you updated! And surely I will keep using their services.


I required a premium service application to bring my spouse to the UK in time for Christmas and the team at Optimus Law were great. Managed to do everything well before expectation. Professional service would recommend Robina to anyone!!


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