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Fact sheet: Graduate Immigration Route

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The Graduate route allows the UK to retain the brightest and the best international students to contribute to society and the economy post-study under the points-based immigration system.

Key Points:

  • The Graduate route is available to international students who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance, and who have valid Tier 4 or Student permission at the time of application.
  • Successful applicants on this route at bachelor’s or master’s level will be able to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, at any skill level for two years. Doctoral students will be able to stay for three years.
  • Due to COVID-19, we have also put in place concessions for students unable to travel to the UK due to the pandemic, recognising the continued disruption many face in international travel.
  • Applicants who began their studies in autumn 2020, or in spring 2021 will need to be in the UK with permission as a Student, by 27 September 2021. Students beginning their course this autumn or early next year will need to be in the UK by 6 April 2022.
  • For the vast majority of applicants, the Graduate route application process will be entirely digital, and if your application is successful, you will be issued with an eVisa. You will start your application at GOV.UK where you will create a UK Visas and Immigration account and use the ‘UK Immigration ID Check’ app to verify your identity. To do this, you will need your Biometric Residence Card or Permit (BRC/P), which would have been given to you when you were granted your Student (or Tier 4) visa. If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you can use your biometric passport to verify your identity on the app.
  • The app is free and is compatible with Android phones and iPhone 7 or newer models. If you do not own a compatible phone, you can use the app from a family or friend’s mobile phone. No information is stored on the phone or app after you close it.
  • The launch of the route demonstrates the Government’s support for our education sector, and commitment to the International Education Strategy, which sets out an ambition to increase education exports to £35 billion.
  • Individuals who already have permission as a dependant of a Student who is applying on this route can also apply to extend their permission as a dependant – however new dependants are not permitted on this route, except for a child born in the UK during the current period of a Tier 4 or Student visa permission.
  • The route does not count towards settlement – however Graduates will be able to apply to other routes at the end of their 2-3 year stay, for example the Skilled Worker, Global Talent or Innovator routes.
  • Those who graduate and whose Tier 4 or Student visa permission expired  before the route launched on 1 July   are not eligible and the route cannot be brought forward or applied retrospectively.  However, students who are not eligible for the Graduate route may still benefit from the favourable switching provisions into a number of other routes, for example Skilled Worker, Start Up, Innovator or Global Talent, among others.

Frequently asked questions:

Does the Graduate route require a new application?

  • The Graduate route requires a new visa application, which is only  possible from inside the UK. It  includes the payment of a visa fee of £700 and the Immigration Health Surcharge at the full rate of £624 per year. Students  need to know the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) they used for their most recent Student (or Tier 4) application in order to apply for the Graduate route.

Will universities be expected to act as sponsors for those students on the Graduate route after they have graduated?

  • Individuals applying to the Graduate route do not need a sponsor. Student sponsors do  not need to fulfil any sponsorship duties for their students once they switch onto the Graduate route and students do not need a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to apply under this route. However, students sponsors need to notify the Home Office that a student has successfully completed their course.

Does this route count towards settlement?

  • The route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement. However, graduates who find an appropriate job and meet the requirements will be able to apply to work routes, including the Skilled Worker, which is a route to settlement.


- This Factsheet was updated on 1 July 20201

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