New graduate visa route now open to international students in the UK

The new graduate route launched on 1 July 2021. This route allows international students to remain in the UK to work after successfully completing an eligible course.

How does it work?

An applicant must have or have last held permission as either a Student or Tier 4 (General) Student to be eligible. International students will need to have successfully completed a UK bachelor’s degree or above with a UK higher education provider, with a track record of compliance.

The student’s university will need to notify the Home Office that the student has successfully completed the course of study before the graduate visa application can be made. The student must also have studied in the UK for the minimum period of the course.

However, students who undertook distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 due to the pandemic will still be eligible to apply. Students who began their studies in 2020 or 2021 will need to arrive in the UK either before their permission ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner. Students who will begin their course this autumn or early next year will have until 6 April 2022 to arrive to the UK.

The graduate route is unsponsored so the applicant will not need a job offer to apply for the route. There will be no minimum salary requirements nor caps on numbers. Graduates will, therefore, be able to work flexibly, switch jobs and develop their career in the UK.

A student can include a dependant partner in their application, provided their partner is in the UK and has last been granted permission as their dependant. New dependants will not be permitted, except where a dependant child was born in the UK.

Permission as a Graduate

A successful applicant will be granted permission to remain in the UK for two years or three years for Doctoral students. Applicants will be able to work full time or use this time to look for work.

The graduate route does not lead to settlement in the UK. However, a graduate can switch into the skilled worker route if suitable employment is found, and the requirements of the skilled worker route are met.

For advice on the graduate visa route, please contact Associate Partner Talitha Degwa at