Find out about the Graduate visa route and check other options for working in the UK, your home country or somewhere else.
Graduate visa route
The government’s Graduate visa route allows you to work in the UK after you graduate for:
- two years, if you are an undergraduate or Masters student
- three years, if you are a PhD student.
Important: Studying is restricted under the Graduate route; you cannot study a course which could be sponsored under the Student route.
You can apply if you have:
- successfully completed an undergraduate degree, Masters degree, PhD degree or other doctoral qualification (PGCEs and PGDEs are also acceptable, but other PG diplomas and certificates are not), and
- a valid Tier 4 or student visa at the time of application – in most circumstances you must be awarded your degree before your current visa expires; if you have resits or do not complete your degree in the normal timeframe this could affect your eligibility, and
- studied in the UK with Student permission for at least 12 months or the full length of your course, whichever is shorter (see below for Covid-19 concessions guidance and check what counts as time spent studying in the UK), and
- a letter showing your financial sponsor’s consent to the application if your tuition fees and living costs were paid by a government or scholarship agency within the previous 12 months.
You can read the full Graduate visa route government guidance [PDF] or contact us if you have any questions.
Important: If you have completed your course earlier than the course end date on your most recent CAS (for example, by removing a work placement year), you must not leave the UK after we have reported this to the government as you will not then be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa.
How to apply
We must report your eligibility for the route to the government before you apply. If you apply before we make the report, your application could be refused and you may not get your fees back.
Do not apply until you receive an email from us with the subject line: “Graduate route visa – course completion notification”. You get this email after your final results appear in Sussex Direct. Optional resits can affect when we make the report.
If you haven’t completed your course, find out how resits affect Graduate visa route applications.
After you receive the email, to be eligible for the Graduate visa route, you need to apply from within the UK.
If you are overseas, think about pandemic travel restrictions and how you will support yourself in the UK before you decide to travel and apply.
As part of the online application, you:
- pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (£624 a year)
- pay an application fee (£715)
- undergo identity, criminality and security checks.
If successful, you:
- get two or three years to work in the UK but you won’t get settlement rights
- can work, or look for work, in any sector, at any level
- can switch into the skilled work route if you meet the requirements.
Check a government fact sheet about the graduate immigration route.
You can also see our Panopto presentation on the Graduate route (log in required) and visa guidance on entering the UK (including what to do if your 90-day travel vignette has expired and how to request a new CAS if you haven’t yet applied for a Student visa).
Covid-19 and graduate work visas
If you want to apply for a graduate work visa after your studies, and have been studying remotely from outside the UK, check Home Office guidance on when you need to be in the UK by [PDF, pages 15 and 16].
You must have unexpired student permission when you apply under the graduate route, and you must meet all the requirements.
If you started a course which lasts 12 months or less (including one-year Master’s courses) in autumn 2021 or spring 2022, you were required to come to the UK under the Student route by 30 June 2022 to be eligible.
If your course is longer than 12 months, any distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2022 will not prevent you from being eligible for the Graduate route. You will need to re-enter the UK on your existing Student visa and apply from within the UK when you are eligible.
If you have a partner and/or children already in the UK as Tier 4 or Student dependants, they can apply from within the UK to extend their stay as a Graduate route dependant.
Partners or children outside the UK cannot apply for a visa as a Graduate route dependant.
They will need to apply as a Student dependant, if eligible, and come to the UK on that basis.
Once they are in the UK, they can apply for permission to stay as your Graduate route dependant.
Make sure you allow time for this in your plans.
See government Graduate visa route guidance if you have a partner or children.
You can also check UKCISA guidance on student dependant immigration rules and visa applications.
Contact our immigration team if you need to discuss this further.
Resits or delays to the end of your course
You should always aim to complete your course within your original visa permission.
However, if you need to resit, this could affect your eligibility for the Graduate route as you may not be awarded your degree before your current visa expiry date.
We may be able to issue you with another CAS to extend your Student visa, to cover the resit period or extension to your course. Once you are granted a visa extension, you’re eligible to apply for the Graduate route as long as you successfully complete your course before your new visa expires.
To request a CAS, email:
- firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re an undergraduate or Masters student
- email@example.com if you’re studying a PhD.
Contact our immigration team if you have any questions about making the visa application.
After graduation, you can be self-employed on the Graduate visa. After two years you could potentially transfer to the Start-up visa, but only if you have not started trading.
We are not currently endorsing new applications for this scheme.
If you are already part of this scheme, continue to email firstname.lastname@example.org with any issues or questions.
Important: If you have a student visa, your conditions mean you are not allowed to undertake self-employment or any business activity. But you can talk to our entrepreneurship team for advice about your ideas and options.
If you need more advice, contact our immigration advisers.
Other work visas
There are other visa routes for working in the UK, such as being a skilled worker.
See other visa options for working after your studies on the UKCISA website.