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The Graduate Route Visa

The Graduate visa is a new post-study work visa route (PSW) which allows eligible international students to stay in the UK for at least 2 years following their graduation. Unlike other PSW visas, the Graduate visa does not require applicants to have already secured a job in the UK. Find out more about what the Graduate Route means for you and how it can benefit employers.

What is the Graduate Route?

The UK Graduate Route was introduced in July 2021 to offer a new PSW visa (post-study work visa) to international students wishing to stay in the UK following their graduation. This PSW visa was introduced to address the skills shortages caused by Brexit and to promote the UK as a place to work. 

How does the Graduate Route benefit employers?

There are numerous ways in which employers can benefit from employing a Graduate Visa holder:

  1. Unlike other PSW visas, the Graduate Route requires the student to apply and pay for the application, as opposed to the employer. 
  2. There are no minimum salary requirements in employing Graduate Visa holders other than national minimum wage.
  3. It allows companies to be strategic in their recruitment, enabling businesses to target those overseas markets in which they are wishing to explore.

Applying for a Graduate Visa

  • You must be in the UK to apply for the Graduate Route and applications must be made online by the student.
  • The Graduate Visa Route costs £700. However, applicants must also pay the immigration health surcharge which costs £624 per year. 
  • The Home Office aims to make decisions within 8 weeks of submitting the application.
  • Students do not have to wait for their decision to commence work, rather under the Graduate Visa, students are able to start full-time work as soon as they have completed their course. 
  • During the time of completing their course and gaining a decision on their application, students’ student visas will automatically be extended.
  • Employers must make an Employer Checking Service to obtain a positive verification from the Home Office that there is an application pending as your right to work check.

What happens after I make an application for a Graduate Visa?

  • Once an application has been approved, the applicant will receive an email which contains confirmation of their digital status and a PDF copy of their decision letter.
  • Graduate visa holders are able to access their immigration status and share code using this link.
  • Applicants need to share their share code with their employers to prove their immigration status.
  • Employers will use the applicant’s share code and DOB to confirm their right to work in the UK.


NOTE: the checking of an employee’s right to work must be done in their presence, this can be done in-person or virtually. As part of this, employers must check that the online photo matches the person. Employers must save the online profile page as either a hard copy or as an electronic PDF.


The Graduate Visa: FAQs

Can I apply to the Graduate Route?

The Graduate Route visa is able to benefit a broad range of people, to apply to the Graduate Visa you must meet the following:

  • You’re applying from inside of the UK.
  • You are currently on a Student visa or a Tier 4 (General) student visa.
  • You have a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree (or you have completed another eligible course).
  • Your place of education has informed the Home Office that you have successfully completed your course.

How long can I stay in the UK under the Graduate Route visa?

With a Graduate Visa, PhD graduates are able to stay in the UK for 3 years and all other graduates are able to stay in the UK for 2 years.

How much does the Graduate Route Visa cost?

The application for a Graduate Visa costs £715, however, additional fees must be paid in relation to the immigration health surcharge. Likewise, using the services of an immigration lawyer will incur additional fees.

What kind of job do I need to be eligible for a Graduate Visa?

With the Graduate Visa, individuals are able to undertake any type of work: it does not have to be related to their field of study.

Can I switch from the Graduate Route to the Skilled Worker Visa?

Businesses who employ someone who is a Graduate Visa holder will be able to switch them to a Skilled Worker Visa providing that they have a sponsor licence. Graduate Visa holders who are making the switch to a Skilled Worker Visa will be regarded as a new entrant. Therefore, businesses will benefit from being able to pay them a minimum salary of £20,480 or 70% of the going rate salary (which is higher) for the job they will be carrying out.

Businesses with a sponsor licence are able to benefit in broader ways. For instance, sponsor licences enable businesses to have access to a larger recruitment pool meaning that they are able to employ the brightest and best talent regardless of where they are based in the world.

As an employer, can I refuse someone who has a Graduate Visa?

An employer cannot refuse an application from someone on a time-limited visa and right to work. To avoid discrimination claims, all applicants should be considered on merit and refusals can only be made on the basis that other candidates were stronger. If this has not been followed then be prepared to justify your decision.


If you would like to make an enquiry about applying for a Graduate Visa, or if you would simply like to learn more, please don't hesitate to get in touch.