PSW Visa UK: Graduate Visa

The Graduate Visa allows eligible international students to stay in the UK for at least 2 years following their graduation. This is a new post-study work (PSW) visa route which, unlike existing PSW visas, does not require applicants to have already secured a job.

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What is a Graduate Visa?

The Graduate Immigration Route was introduced as a new PSW Visa in the UK. It provides international students already in the UK on a Student Visa with the opportunity to stay in the UK for up to 2 years following their graduation. Unlike other PSW Visas, the Graduate Immigration Route is unsponsored, meaning that applicants do not need a job offer to be able to apply to the Graduate Immigration Route. 

This new PSW Visa addresses the skills shortages which have been caused by the UK’s departure from the EU as the Graduate Immigration Route encourages talented graduates to remain in the UK. For employers, the Graduate visa is particularly valuable as unlike other UK work visas, there is not a minimum salary or sponsorship requirement which must be adhered to (except from the National Minimum Wage).

Besides the financial benefits for the Graduate Immigration Route, companies are to benefit from training new talent and are able to recruit strategically, particularly targeting those overseas markets where your business has or is gearing up to explore. 


Who is eligible for a UK Graduate Visa?

To be eligible for the Graduate Visa, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • You are applying to the Graduate Route from inside of the UK.
  • You are currently in the UK on either a Student Visa or a Tier 4 (General) Visa.
  • You have a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree (or you have completed another eligible course).
  • The place in which you obtained the qualification has informed the Home Office that you have successfully completed your course.


The course you studied

In order to be eligible for the Graduate visa, you must have successfully completed the course you were doing whilst in the UK on your Student Visa or Tier 4 Student Visa.

The course you successfully completed in the UK must fall in one of the following categories:

  • A UK bachelor’s degree.
  • A UK master’s degree.
  • A UK PhD or doctorate.
  • A law conversion course approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
  • The LPC (Legal Practice Course) in England or Wales. Alternatively, you can have completed the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland or a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland.
  • A foundation programme in either dentistry or medicine.
  • A PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education).
  • A PGDE (Postgraduate Diploma in Education).

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If you would like to know more about Graduate Visa options, then please get in touch with us to speak to an expert immigration lawyer.

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The Graduate Visa Application Process

Do you need a job to apply for the Graduate Visa UK?

No, you do not need a job to apply for the Graduate Visa UK.

To apply for the Graduate Visa you are required to meet the eligibility requirements laid out which includes successfully completing an eligible course in the UK whilst on a Student Visa or Tier 4 Student Visa.


How to apply to the Graduate Immigration Route

An application for a Graduate Visa must be made online whilst you are in the UK.

As part of the application process, you will be required to create an account with UKVI and confirm your identity using the UK Immigration ID Check app. To be able to do this, you will be required to use either your Biometric Residence Permit or Card (BRP/BRC) or your biometric passport if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen). You can read more about using the UK Immigration ID Check app to confirm your identity here. If you are unable to confirm your identity using the UK Immigration ID Check app, then you will be required to attend an in-person biometrics appointment at a UKVCAS centre.

When applying for a Graduate Visa, you will also be required to provide the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number which is on your current Student Visa or Tier 4 Visa. If you cannot find your CAS number, then contact your university. 


How long does it take for a Graduate Visa to be approved?

The majority of applicants receive a decision on their Graduate Immigration Route application within 8 weeks of verifying their identity (either through the app or by attending a UKVCAS centre). However, the processing times can be shorter or longer due to a range of factors. 


What happens after you apply for a Graduate Visa

If your application for a Graduate Visa is approved you will receive an email which contains information of your digital status (eVisa) and a PDF copy of your decision letter.

You are able to view your immigration status here by using the details from the UKVI account you created as part of the application process.


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

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.


Graduate Visa Fees

It costs £822 to apply to the Graduate Immigration Route. However, in addition to the application fee, you are also required to pay the immigration health surcharge which costs £624 per year. The immigration health surcharge is a compulsory payment and it grants you access to a range of NHS services whilst in the UK.

How can Paragon Law help?

At Paragon Law, our team of expert business immigration solicitors have a vast amount of experience helping international graduates and global talent to come to the UK to work and live. For over 20 years, our team of immigration solicitors have been providing knowledgeable and reliable immigration advice to graduates to enable them to seamlessly settle in the UK. 

Employment and the Graduate Visa

Under the Graduate Immigration Route, you are able to undertake any type of work in the UK (except as a professional sportsperson) and it does not have to be related to the qualification you gained with your Student or Tier 4 visa.

Students are not required to wait for a decision on their Graduate visa application to be made before their start work. Instead, under the Graduate Immigration Route individuals are able to begin working full time as soon as they have completed their course. During the time of finishing their course and awaiting a decision, the student’s Student visa will automatically be extended. However, employers will be required to carry out an Employer Checking Service (ECS) check and obtain a positive verification (PVN) from the Home Office. By doing so they are ensuring that the student has made an in-time Graduate visa application and that they have the right to work in the UK.

As part of the right to work check, you will be required to provide your employer with a share code as this will prove your status. Employers will then use the share code and your date of birth to check your right to work

A note for employers: the right to work check must be done in the presence of the graduate (in-person or virtually) in order to check that the online photo is that of the graduate. You will then need to save the online profile page as a hard copy or electronically as a PDF.


How does the Graduate Immigration 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 Immigration 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.


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.


Switching from a Graduate Visa to the Skilled Worker Visa

The Graduate Visa cannot be extended, therefore, if you wish to remain in the UK you must switch to another appropriate immigration route. The Skilled Worker Visa is one immigration route which you may be eligible to switch to. 

In order to be eligible to switch from the Graduate Immigration Route to the Skilled Worker Visa, you must have a job offer from an approved UK sponsor amongst other requirements

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 £20,960 or 70% of the going rate salary (which is higher) for the job they will be carrying out.

A business which possesses a sponsor licence is able to benefit from having access to a broader recruitment pool, therefore, having an opportunity to employ the brightest and best talent regardless of where they are based in the world.

Graduate Visa Fees

Our fees reflect the service required and the complexities of the case. For a tailored quote please consult one of our immigration lawyers or solicitors. As an immigration law firm, we offer our clients an initial consultation with an immigration lawyer in order to get more detail about your case.

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Enquire now about the Graduate Visa

Complete the contact form and one of our immigration advisors will get back to you as soon as they can. Our immigration advisors will be in touch to arrange an initial telephone appointment with one of our immigration lawyers.

Graduate Visa: FAQs

Can I bring dependents with me under the UK Graduate Route?

If your partner and children were dependants on your UK Student Visa or Tier 4 (General) UK Student Visa, then they can apply to be dependants on your UK Graduate Visa too. Additionally, if you had a child whilst you were in the UK on your Student Visa or Tier 4 (General) Student Visa, they can also apply.

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.

Can I extend the UK Graduate Visa?

No, you cannot extend the UK Graduate Visa. If you wish to remain in the UK you must apply to another appropriate immigration route before your current visa expires.

Individuals who are applying to stay in the UK and have been in the UK for 12 months or more at the time of application won’t have to prove that they meet the financial requirements.

How long does it take to get a UK Graduate Visa?

The majority of applicants will receive a decision within 8 weeks of verifying their identity and providing the relevant documents. However, the UK Graduate Visa processing times can be shorter or longer depending on a range of factors including the complexity of the case and the capacity of the processing centre at the current state of time when applying.

How much does a UK Graduate Visa application cost?

It costs £822 to apply for the UK  Graduate Route. However, all applicants must also pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) which gives them access to select NHS services whilst they are in the UK - the IHS costs £624 per year.

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