Graduate Route is a new UK post-study work visa for international students available to students completing a UK degree from the summer of 2021. It will allow you to live and work in the UK for up to two years after a master's, or three years after a PhD/DrPH, with no restriction on the type of work you can do.
Students will normally be expected to undertake their studies in the UK to be eligible for the Graduate Route. However, if students are required to either continue their current studies or commence a new programme of study by distance or blended learning due to Covid-19, they will still be eligible providing they enter the UK before 6 April 2021 and complete the final Term of their studies in the UK.
- How do I apply for the Graduate Route Visa?
The current UKVI guidance suggests that a student must have an existing Student Visa (Tier 4) and must have entered the UK before 6 April 2021 to complete the final Term of their studies in the UK to be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route. You will need to complete identity, criminality and security checks as well as pay an application fee and an Immigration Health Surcharge payment. You will not need any sponsorship to apply for the Graduate Route.
Students intending to apply for the Graduate Route should note that UKVI are currently suggesting that applications take 15 working days to process following a visa appointment, but some may take longer. Students should be mindful of any local restrictions that may cause delays in securing visa centre appointments and TB tests.
Students should consider all the above and allow ample time from a CAS request to arrival in the UK. Students not intending to take advantage of the Graduate Route who plan to arrive in London for Term 3 should be applying for the short-term student visa instead.
- Will there be a fee for the Graduate Route visa?
Yes, you will need to pay a separate visa fee to access the Graduate Route. You will also need to pay further Immigration Health Surcharge to cover each additional year you spend in the UK.
- Will I need to apply if I already have a Student Visa (Tier 4)?
Yes, you will need to apply for a separate Graduate Route visa before your Student Visa (Tier 4) expires.
- Will the Graduate Route replace the doctorate extension scheme for students?
Yes, the Graduate Route will replace the Doctorate Extension Scheme for PhD students who graduate from summer 2021. This is good news for PhD/DrPH visa holders as the new option provides a much more generous post-study work period (three years rather than one) and a simpler application process.
- What will this mean for EU students?
The Graduate Route will be available to students on Student Visa. EU and EEA students arriving in the UK to study from 1 January 2021 or after will require a visa. The Graduate Route will therefore be available to EU and EEA students as well as other international students on a Student Visa (Tier 4).
- What will happen if I don't find a job after my degree?
You don't need to be in work to qualify for the Graduate Route and periods of unemployment won't have any impact on the length of your post-study work visa.
- What will happen when my Graduate Route Visa expires?
At the end of the two-year period after a master's or three-year period after a PhD/DrPH degree, you will need to leave the UK or apply for a different visa, such as a Tier 2 General work visa. The Tier 2 visa requires you to have an employment offer with a minimum skill and salary level, but your time on the Graduate Route should make it much easier to work towards this.