Renowned for its globally acclaimed education sector, the United Kingdom (UK) extends a warm invitation to all those who are wishing to develop their academic skills. It is home to distinguished, global leading educational institutions, welcoming thousands of talented and high potential students every year.
“The new Graduate route will open for applications on 1 July 2021, allowing the UK to retain the brightest and the best international students to continue to contribute to society and the economy post-study." - Graduate route to open to international students on 1 July 2021 - GOV.UK
What is a Graduate Visa?
The UK’s Graduate Route, also known as the Post-Study Work Visa, is a type of visa that allows international students who have completed a degree at a UK higher education institution to remain in the UK for a period of 2 years or 3 years after their studies. It provides accomplished international students who have successfully completed their degrees, the privilege to extend their stay in the UK. During this period, graduates can engage in a range of employment endeavours for two years. For those who have accomplished their PHD studies, this privilege extends to three years.
How to apply?
Applying for a Graduate Visa in the UK involves a structured process. The Graduate Visa application can only be completed online and from within the UK. Before beginning the application process, you must ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria for the Graduate Route.
The application process involves submitting an online application form, paying the relevant home office fees, collating and submitting relevant documents. As part of your application, you will also need to prove your identity.
When should I apply for the Graduate Visa?
You should apply for the Graduate Visa upon completion of your studies, and before your current Student (or Tier 4) Visa expires. It is important that you submit your application before the expiry of your current visa as this could affect your eligibility.
You can apply for a Graduate visa if all of the following are true:
- You are in the United Kingdom
- Your current visa is a Student Visa or Tier 4 [General] student visa
- You 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
- Your education provider (such as your university or college) has told the Home Office you’ve successfully completed your course
How long you can stay
A Graduate visa lasts for 2 years. If you have a PHD or other doctoral qualification, it will last for 3 years. Your visa will start from the day your application is approved. You cannot extend your Graduate Visa. However, you may be able to switch to a different visa, for example a Skilled Worker Visa.
The fees for the Graduate visa
You are obligated to submit a new visa application, necessitating the payment of the application fee, which is £715. Alongside the visa application fee, you will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) amounting to £624 per year. It is noteworthy that the IHS sum is subject to change, and it is typically based on the length of your visa. For example, you will need to pay £1248 for two years.
It is advised to verify the current fees and payment methods directly from the official UK government sources, such as the Home Office or UK Visa and Immigration.
Home Office immigration and nationality fees: 29 June 2023 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
How to ensure a successful Graduate Visa application is submitted?
Most students turn to social media, immigration forums, and friends for guidance. However, individual circumstances vary, meaning that their experience in applying for a Graduate Visa may differ significantly from yours.
Immigration rules undergo frequent changes. It is vital to stay up to date with relevant immigration legislation and requirements. We recommend that everyone maintains a consistent practice of checking the official UK government sources for the most recent information and updates concerning the Graduate Route.
Engaging with one of our immigration advisors at Ronald Fletcher Baker guarantees comprehensive support throughout your unique graduate journey. Our experts provide tailored advice to assist you in your application process. We will liaise with the University and the Home Office to ensure a seamless process.
1. Can I apply for an extension of the Graduate visa after the two/three-year period?
The Graduate Route does not offer an extension beyond the initial two or three-year period. Once your Graduate Route visa expires, you will need to explore other visa options if you wish to continue staying in the UK. Depending on your plans, you might consider options such as switching to a Skilled Worker Visa, applying for a different work-related visa category, or exploring other immigration routes available at that time.
2. Does the Graduate Route count towards settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain)?
The time spent on the Graduate Route does not count toward settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) in the UK. However, it may provide you with an opportunity to gain work experience that could make you eligible for other visa categories, such as the Skilled Worker Visa.
3. Can I switch from graduate visa to a skilled worker visa anytime during the two years?
You will be able to switch to the Skilled Worker route if you meet the relevant requirements. You must have secured a job offer from an employer that holds a valid Skilled Worker Sponsor License and meeting the relevant criteria for the Skilled Worker visa category, such as skill level, salary, and English language proficiency.
4. Can I work whilst I am on a graduate visa?
During the Graduate Route period, you can work, seek employment, or start your own business in the UK. There are no restrictions on the type of work you can do, and you do not need a job offer to apply for this visa because it is an unsponsored route. You will be able to work, switch jobs and develop your career in the UK as required.
5. Can I travel whilst I am on a graduate visa?
You are permitted to travel whilst on a graduate visa and you should always carry your current BRP when travelling, as you will need to show this to the border force of the country you are travelling to, and you may be asked to present it at the UK Border.
When crossing the UK border, information will be checked digitally on arrival, and those with a UKVI account will not routinely need to prove their status. To prevent unnecessary delays at the border, it is important to ensure the document you travel on is registered to your account.
6.Can your dependants apply relying on your graduate visa?
Bringing new dependents is not permitted, except in cases where the dependant is already present in the UK under a Student dependant visa. In such instances, they may also be eligible to apply as a dependent of a Graduate at the same time the Graduate applies for the Graduate Route.
7. What do I do if my graduate visa is refused?
If your Graduate Visa application is refused, it can indeed be disheartening. However, it is important to remember that a refusal does not signify the end of your options or opportunities.
It is recommended you seek legal advice regarding your application and depending on your circumstances you will have the following options;
- Administrative Review - An Administrative Review is a process that allows you to request a review of your visa application if you believe there has been an error in the decision-making process that led to your refusal.
- Judicial Review – If the refusal letter does not give you an option for Administrative Review you may seek legal advice to Judicially Review the decision.
- Re-Application - For reapplication, it’s straightforward to apply again. However, note that previous visa refusals might affect your chances.
8. Do I need a Solicitor to submit the application?
The Graduate Visa may seem simple as there is no requirement to have a Confirmation of Acceptance for studies [CAS] from a Sponsored University or a Certificate of Sponsorship for workers [COS] from a sponsored employer.
However, the application process for the Graduate visa requires specific documentation and all eligibility criteria must be met. There are several reasons why your application may have failed:
- Proof of identity wasn’t provided
- Incorrect immigration status
- Failing to submit all correct supporting documents
- Failing to respond to Home Office requests for further information
- Failing to provide evidence of completion of the course
Therefore, it would be wise to engage with an experienced immigration advisor to guide you throughout the process.
Please contact our Immigration team who will be able to assist you;