Boost your professional skills and career options with the UK's new graduate immigration scheme.
Staying in the UK to work after your degree course allows you to apply the knowledge and skills you've learned in your course. You will also gain the experience future employers are looking for and make connections to advance your career.
Under the UK's new Graduate visa route, you'll be able to stay in the UK to work – or look for work – for up to two years after completing your studies, or up to three years after a PhD course.
The Graduate visa is a way for international students, who have been awarded their degree to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, at any skill level for two years, or three years for doctoral students. It is sometimes referred to as the 'post-study work visa'.
The Graduate visa is an unsponsored route, meaning you do not need a job offer to apply for the route. You will be able to work flexibly, switch jobs and develop your career in the UK as required.
The Graduate visa will be available for students who:
- have studied their course in the UK on a Student route or Tier 4 student visa
- successfully complete an undergraduate or postgraduate degree course
- studied at a university with a good track record as an immigration sponsor – such as the University of Nottingham
- graduate in summer 2021 or later
- have current and valid leave to be in the UK at the time of successfully completing their degree and are physically present in the UK
- meet the 'study in the UK requirement' - see Study in the UK requirement and Covid-19 concessions below.
Nb, if you intend to apply for the Graduate visa and believe you are eligible, but have not received the confirmation from the Visa & Immigration team within one month after receiving the confirmation of your degree, or if you have less than one month left on your student visa, contact the Visa & Immigration team as soon as possible.
Steps to getting a Graduate visa
- Check that you will be eligible for the Graduate visa: https://www.gov.uk/graduate-visa
- Successfully complete your studies
- Receive formal confirmation that your degree has been awarded
- Receive an email from the Visa & Immigration team confirming that the successful completion of your course has been reported to the Home Office
- Apply for the Graduate visa: https://www.gov.uk/graduate-visa/apply
- The duration of the visa will be two years, or three years for PhD graduates.
- The fee to apply will be £715 per applicant, and the Immigration Health Surcharge will be an additional £624 per year, per applicant.
- New dependants are not permitted. You can only apply with dependants if they are your existing dependants while you have been on the Tier 4 or Student route visa, and they must also be physically present in the UK in order to apply as your Graduate route dependant.
- You will need your most recent CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) number for the visa application, which you can find in your previous visa application or email history. This will also be emailed to you; please see the FAQs below for more information.
- You should only make an application for the Graduate Immigration Route once you have ensured that the university has first reported your successful completion to UKVI (UK Visa and Immigration), otherwise you may receive a visa refusal.
- You can only obtain this visa once, even if you study more than one course in the UK.
- We recommend reading the Government's guide to Graduate Immigration before applying, which includes key information about the digital immigration status ('eVisa') that will be issued once the visa is granted.
Government's guide to the Graduate visa
Finding a job
You won't need to find a job before applying for this visa, and there are no restrictions on the employer, salary level or position you take. We encourage you to seek graduate-level jobs to make the best use of this opportunity. You can also change jobs and employers during your visa period without restrictions. You could even launch your own business with support from our Ingenuity Lab.
At the end of the two- or three-year visa period, you can apply for another UK visa route if you meet its requirements. Alternatively, you can return to pursue your career in your home country, building on the skills and experience you've gained while working as a graduate in the UK.
The Careers and Employability Service are also here to support you in finding a graduate-level job.
Careers and employability service
Find out more:
Study in the UK requirement and Covid-19 concessions
The Graduate Route rules state minimum periods of time that a student must spend physically present studying in the UK, depending on their course length. The Home Office has confirmed that students whose studies are disrupted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will still be eligible for the graduate immigration route if they completed part of their studies outside the UK, as long as the following deadlines on returning to the UK are met, where applicable.
Students on a course of study which started in Autumn 2020 or Spring 2021 which is 12 months or less (i.e. Masters, MRes and PGCE students) who have not previously entered the UK on their current Student or Tier 4 visa had until 27 September 2021 to enter the UK in order to be eligible for the Graduate visa.
Students on a course of study which started in Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022 which is 12 months or less who have not previously entered the UK on their current Student or Tier 4 visa must have arrived by 30 June 2022 in order to be eligible for the Graduate visa. If you have been advised that you need to return to campus for academic reasons, including assessments, by any date before 30 June 2022, that date takes precedence.
Students on a course of study in the UK lasting more than 12 months (i.e. undergraduate students and PhD students) need to enter the UK and apply for the visa before their current visa expires. They are required to have spent at least 12 months studying in the UK, but any time you have spent outside the UK distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2022 is not counted, and will not prevent you from meeting the 'Study in the UK' requirement.
Graduate Visa Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The pages below have been created to support you with questions you may have at any stage of the process.
If your question has not been answered, please contact the Visa and Immigration Team.
Before applying for the graduate visa
Eligibility for the graduate visa
Applying for the graduate visa
After applying for the graduate visa
If you have obtained 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the UK's EU Settlement Scheme, then you can live, study and work in the UK freely with this immigration status, and you will not require a Student visa or Graduate visa.
The EU Settlement Scheme was available to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who were living in the UK by the end of 2020. Applications for the scheme closed on 30 June 2021.
From 2021, EU, EEA and Swiss nationals are included in the UK's new immigration system. If you do not have settled or pre-settled status, you will require a student visa during your studies and you would then be eligible for the graduate immigration route as outlined above.
Irish nationals have the right to live and work in the UK, under the UK-Ireland Common Travel Area arrangements. Irish students will not need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, a Student visa or the Graduate immigration route.