The Graduate immigration route

Mar 5, 2021

On 11 September 2019 the UK government announced that it would create a ‘Graduate Immigration Route’ to enable international students to remain in the UK  for two years after they have completed their studies or three years for Doctoral students.

It will open for applications on 1 July 2021.

This will be an unsponsored route, meaning applicants will not need a job offer to qualify. There will be no minimum salary requirement nor caps on numbers.  Qualifying applicants will be able to work flexibly, switch jobs and develop their career.

The Graduate route will be available to international students who want to work or look for work following the successful completion of a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education provider with a track record of compliance.

This route will not lead to settlement.

Those with existing leave to enter or remain as a dependant of a student who is applying on this route can extend their permission as a dependant on this route. New dependants will not be permitted to apply on this route.

The Graduate Immigration Route

compiled by Judit Adorjan – Immigration Consultant

What are the validity requirements?

The applicant must:

  • Be in the UK
  • Apply on the website on the specified online form ‘Graduate’
  • Have existing permission as a student on the date of application
  • Not have been previously granted permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme or as a graduate
  • Pay the immigration health surcharge and the application fee
  • Have provided any required biometrics, and
  • Have provided a current valid passport or travel document which satisfactorily established their identity and nationality.

If in the 12 months before the application the applicant has been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship by a government or international scholarship agency covering both fees and living costs for study in the UK, a written consent to the application is also required from the government or international scholarship agency.

What is the qualification requirement?

The applicant must have successfully completed a course of study for which they will be awarded:

  • A UK bachelor’s degree
  • A UK postgraduate degree, or one of the following:
  • A law conversion course validated by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales
  • The Legal Practice Course in England and Wales, the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland
  • The Bar Practice Course in England and Wales, or the Bar Course in Northern Ireland
  • A foundation programme in medicine or dentistry
  • A postgraduate Certificate in Education course, or
  • A professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public authority.

The qualification must have been obtained during the last grant of permission to study as a student or in the period of permission immediately before the applicant’s last grant of permission if the last permission was granted to undertake a role as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.

What is the study in the UK requirement?

The minimum period for which the applicant’s current permission on the Student route must have been granted will depend on the total duration of their course.

  • If the total length of their course is 12 months or less, the student’s permission must have been granted for the full duration of the course and all study must have taken place in the UK, except for permitted study abroad programmes.
  • If the total length of their course is more than 12 months, the student’s permission granted during which all study took place in the UK must have been for at least 12 months.

Students who were on distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 will meet the requirements provided:

  • They started their course in 2020 and entered the UK on or before 21 June 2021 to complete that course of study in the UK with permission as a Student; or
  • They started their course in 2021 and entered the UK before 27 September 2021 to complete that course of study in the UK with permission as a Student.
The Graduate Immigration Route

Karen Kaur and Jonathan Beech – Immigration Lawyers

Period and conditions of grant for a Graduate

Successful applicants on this route will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of 2 years or 3 years for PhD students.

The grant of leave will be subject to the following conditions:

  • No access to public funds
  • Work (including self-employment and voluntary work) is permitted, apart from work as a professional sportsperson.
  • Study is permitted, except for study that meets the approved qualification and level of study requirements of the Student route
  • Where study is subject to the ATAS condition this must be met
  • Those aged 16 or older, staying in the UK for longer than 6 months whose nationality means that they must register with the police will be required to do so.

At the end of the two/three year period the visa holder will be able to switch into ‘skilled work’ once they have found a job that meets the requirements of the ‘Skilled Worker route’.

Time spent on the Graduate visa will not count towards settlement.

Those who graduate or whose Student leave expires before the graduate immigration route is introduced will not be eligible to apply.

For more information on the Graduate immigration route please contact Migrate UK 01235 841 568 or email