Find out about the Graduate visa route and check other options for working in the UK.
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.
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), and
- a letter showing your financial sponsor’s consent to the application if your tuition fees or 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 UKVI 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 UKVI 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 (£700)
- 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.
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
The date by which some students need to enter the UK is 27 September 2021.
Home Office guidance explains when you need to be in the UK by [PDF, pages 15 and 16] if you are currently studying for a UK qualification outside the UK through distance learning because of Coronavirus but want to apply for a graduate work visa after your studies.
In all cases, you must have unexpired student permission when you apply for permission under the graduate route, and you must meet all the requirements.
If you started a course lasting 12 months or fewer (including one year Master’s courses) in 2020 or 2021, and you have:
- not previously entered the UK to study it because of distance learning, you can apply for the Graduate route if you make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK on or before 27 September 2021 to complete your course
- existing permission as a Student to study that course, and have already travelled to the UK during that time, you can apply for the Graduate route as long as you are in the UK before your current Student visa expiry date.
If you are starting a course lasting 12 months or fewer (including one year Master’s courses) in autumn 2021 or spring 2022, you need to come to the UK under the Student route by 6 April 2022.
If you’re studying a course lasting longer than 12 months, with distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021, you are still eligible for the Graduate route. You will need to re-enter the UK on your existing Student visa and apply from within the UK on or before your visa expiry date.
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.
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.
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.
If you have a business idea you want to try in the UK, the government has a Start-up visa.
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.
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.