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Graduate Visas

Working in the UK after studying as an international student

There are over 600,000 overseas nationals studying in the UK. Many international students wish to stay in the UK after their studies to work. The Graduate Visa route is an ideal route for international students who wish to put their qualifications to good use in the UK labour market. This visa route is unsponsored, offering international students the opportunity to work with any employer in almost any role, and to change jobs if they wish in order to build up their experience and take the first steps in their professional career.

Graduate Visa holders are given permission to stay in the UK for 2 years or 3 years if they have a PhD or other doctoral qualification. They are permitted to work for any employer, at any skill or salary level. This provides a helpful stepping-stone to other work visa routes such as the Skilled Worker route.

What are the requirements for a Graduate visa?

To successfully apply for a Graduate visa, the following requirements must be met:

  • You must be in the UK when you apply.
  • You must currently hold a Student visa or a Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • You must have studied a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree or other eligible course for a minimum period of time with your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa. You can check if your course is eligible and how long you need to have studied in the UK here.
  • You must have completed your course and your education provider must have confirmed this to the Home Office.

Your education provider must be a sponsor licence holder and must have a track record of compliance. You can check this here.

You must have studied in the UK for either:

  • at least 12 months, if your course’s total length is more than 12 months; or
  • the total length of your course, if its total length is shorter than 12 months

Studying in UK means attending your course when your education provider needed you to be there - for example, to go to lectures or to meet with a tutor. There are exceptions to this requirement in place for students who studied remotely from their home country due to COVID-19.

What can I do in the UK as a Graduate visa holder?

You can work in most jobs except as a professional sportsperson or a sports coach. You can also be looking for work, be self-employed and/or do voluntary work.

You can only study with a Graduate visa if your chosen course is not eligible for a Student visa. If your course is eligible for a student visa, you will need to submit a Student visa extension application. You cannot study at a state school.

You can access NHS services, but you will not qualify for public funds.

Can I extend my leave as a Graduate visa holder?

Leave to remain as Graduate visa holder is not extendable and does not lead to settlement. You may switch from a Graduate visa to other visa category such as Skilled Worker.

Can dependants be included in a Graduate visa?

Your dependant partner and children can apply to stay with you in the United Kingdom. They must already be in the UK as your dependants. New dependants cannot apply to join you.

How can Freeths help?

At Freeths, we work with a number of higher education institutes and can advise on the requirements of this route for an international student body. We are experienced in at supporting overseas nationals to secure and extend visa permission to remain in the UK.

Freeths’ immigration team can help guide you through the process of obtaining a Graduate visa and ensure you satisfy the requirements in full. We can explore your long-term plans and discuss your future visa options to ensure you are prepared ahead of your next visa extension. With over 30 years’ experience in UK immigration law, we are trusted to offer a bespoke service which is tailored to your precise needs.

Our fees are transparent. We offer a fair pricing structure which will be agreed with you at the outset, giving you certainty about the overall cost of the end-to-end process.

If you would like to know more about the Temporary Worker visa route, or need help with an application, please contact our immigration team, who are on hand to help.

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