Graduate Visa

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The Graduate Visa Category, which will come into force on 01 July 2021, will enable overseas students who have completed and eligible degree in the UK to work, or look for work, for two years after the completion of their studies. International students who have completed doctorate degrees will be able to work for or look for work for three years after the completion of their doctorate studies.

Time spent in the UK under the Graduate Visa Category cannot directly lead to settlement, but Graduate Visa Migrants will be permitted to switch to other work related visa routes which may lead to settlement. The UK Visas & Immigration will accept applications for Graduate Visas from 01 July 2021.

Requirements of the Graduate Immigration Route

To qualify for leave to remain in the UK under the UK Graduate Visa route, you will need to demonstrate to the UK Visas & Immigration that:

  • You have completed a UK degree, or other eligible course;
  • You have studied at a Home Office licenced Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance;
  • You have spent a minimum period of time studying in the UK;
  • You have valid leave as a student or Tier 4 Migrant at the date of application and you are applying from inside the UK;
  • You have not previously had leave in the UK under the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES), or the Graduate route;
  • You do not fall for refusal on grounds of suitability.

The specific requirements, that may be applicable to you, will differ depending on your circumstances. You may wish to seek expert advice from an immigration lawyer.

If you wish to apply for a UK Graduate Visa, speak to one of our specialised immigration lawyers for expert advice by completing our “Enquiry Form”.

Eligible courses

In order to extend your stay on the Graduate Immigration Route you will need to have successfully completed a degree at UK bachelor’s or postgraduate level, or a professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above, in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public authority.

You will also be eligible to apply under the Graduate Immigration Route if you have been sponsored to undertake a role as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer following the completion of an eligible qualification in your most recent grant of permission to study. 

Minimum study period in the UK

You must demonstrate to the UK Visas & Immigration that you spent a minimum period of time studying in the UK prior to the completion of your eligible degree. The required minimum period of time will vary depending on the length of your course.

If you have completed an eligible course lasting no more than 12 months, you are required to have studied the whole course in the UK. if you have completed an eligible course of study which lasted more than 12 months, you will need to have spent at least 12 month in the UK on a Student Visa and you must have spent that 12 months period studying in the UK.


The Graduate Visa category, unlike the Skilled Worker Visa category, will not require you to have a job offer from a Licenced Sponsor or find employment with a Home Office-approved Sponsor.

Job-Seeking and Employment

Under the Graduate Visa category, you will be able to live in the UK whilst looking for work and once you have found work, you will be able to work flexibly. You will also be able to engage in work at any skill level and unlike the Skilled Worker Visa category, there is no requirement to find work which pays a minimum salary. You will also be permitted to switch employment whilst you are on a Graduate Visa.

Duration of stay in the UK on the Graduate Immigration Route

If you have completed a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, and you successfully secure a Graduate Visa, you will granted leave for 2 years. If you have completed a doctoral degree prior to being granted a Graduate Visa, you will be granted three years of leave.

Extensions of Stay on the Graduate Immigration Route

You will not be permitted to extend your leave under the Graduate Visa category. You will, however, be permitted to switch to other work based visa routes prior to the expiry of your Graduate Visa.

Settlement on the Graduate Immigration Route

The Graduate Visa category does not lead to indefinite leave to remain in the UK. You will, however, be permitted to switch to other work based visa routes such as the Skilled Worker route, the Global Talent route and the Innovator route, all of which can lead to settlement.


If at the time of your application for UK Graduate Visa, you have dependent family members in the UK with valid leave, they will be able to extend their stay as your dependent. You will not be able to have new dependents join you or extend their stay in the UK under this route except where a dependent child is born in the UK during a period of Student or Graduate leave.

How our lawyers can help you with your UK Graduate Visa Application

Our lawyers are specialists in UK immigration law with almost a decade of experience. We can assist you to prepare and submit a successful UK Graduate Visa application.

Our immigration lawyers can provide you expert advice on meeting the requirements of the Immigration Rules, carry out a detailed assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a UK Graduate Visa and can assist you with the preparation and submission of your immigration application.

Our lawyers combine creative energy with deep technical legal expertise to uncover innovative, out-of-the-box and unconventional strategies that help you succeed in your application even when you’re facing inherent challenges in meeting the requirements of a UK Graduate Visa.

We do this by deploying the following:

  • Taking a holistic approach to analysing every facet of each case and formulating strategies to comprehensively address every element of the case;
  • Bringing deep technical and substantive legal expertise;
  • Collaborative strategizing among specialist lawyers, who operate at different levels of seniority, bringing a wealth of technical expertise, tactical know-how and diversity of perspective on your matter;
  • Using Design Thinking to reframe the challenges you face with a view to redefining value and opening up the scope of solutions;
  • Designing customised strategy to meet your specific challenges.

What this means for you?

If you instruct us to take on your case, our scope of work will comprise of the following:

  • Taking detailed instructions to carry out a thorough analysis of your case;
  • Assessing your eligibility for a UK Graduate Visa in line with the requirements as set out in the Immigration Rules, the accompanying Policy Documents and the wider case-law jurisprudence;
  • Notifying you of the strengths and weaknesses of your case;
  • Advising you on strategies, where possible, to remedy the weaknesses in your case and better evidence the strengths of your case;
  • Providing you detailed and customised advice on the documents you need to provide in support of your application;
  • Reviewing your documents to assess whether they meet the evidential requirements of your application and to advise you if further documents are required;
  • Drafting the application form to provide to you for review and, if required, amending the application in line with your observations;
  • Preparing a detailed letter of representations to be submitted in support of your application;
  • Submitting the application form online and arranging an appointment for the enrolment of your biometrics;
  • Responding to any queries from the Home Office regarding your application
  • Addressing any queries that you may have regarding your application and any issues arising relating to your immigration status;
  • Corresponding with the UK Visas and Immigration (Home Office) to ensure a timely decision on your application.

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