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UK Graduate Visa

A UK Graduate visa grants you permission to stay and work in the UK after successfully completing a course here

What UK Graduate Visa Is for

A UK Graduate visa was launched on 1 July 2021. This immigration route is designed for foreign students who have completed a higher education course in the United Kingdom and want to establish or grow their career in the country. A UK Graduate visa allows a foreign graduate to stay in the UK to find a permanent job or start their own business. 

UK government benefits from the above immigration route in the following ways:

  • Ambitious and proactive specialists with excellent British education who are already used to living in the UK remain in the country;
  • The United Kingdom attracts top specialists who prove their abilities with high academic performance in British universities and speak good English.

A UK Graduate visa is beneficial not only for British economy. It also provides talented foreign specialists with a unique opportunity to enter a large and competitive British market. With a UK Graduate visa, foreign graduates get time to find a permanent job or launch their own commercial project in the country. Foreign specialists continue living in the UK for the whole duration of the visa enjoying security, favourable economic conditions, and high living standards.

UK Graduate visa allows you and your family to stay in the UK after successfully completing your course to find job or to start a business. Imperial & Legal immigration advisors will help you obtain a UK Graduate visa as quickly as possible.

Advantages of UK Graduate Visa

  1. You can legally stay and work in the UK for two years after you have completed a course in a British university. If you have a PhD or other doctoral qualification, a UK Graduate visa will last for three years.
  2. On a UK Graduate visa, you not only can look for a job, but also perform any paid or voluntary work or be self-employed. 
  3. If your spouse or partner and children have stayed in the UK with you during your study, you can add them to a UK Graduate visa application as dependants. A child dependant can be 18 and older if they have turned 18 in the UK, have no family of their own and remain dependent on the main applicant.

UK government is interested in attracting good foreign specialists, so there are minimum restrictions for this immigration category, namely:

  • On a UK Graduate visa, you will not be able to work as a professional sportsperson. A separate immigration route has been designed for this purpose;
  • You cannot apply for public funds.

Requirements for Obtaining UK Graduate Visa

You can apply for a UK Graduate visa if you meet the following requirements:

  1. You are in the UK;
  2. You are in the UK on a UK Student visa or Tier 4 (General) Student visa (closed category);
  3. You obtained a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree while staying in the UK on a UK Student visa or Tier 4 (General) Student visa;
  4. Your education provider (such as college or university) confirms that you have successfully completed your course.

What Degree Is Required to Apply for UK Graduate Visa?

To apply for a UK Graduate visa, you need one of the following degrees:

  • Bachelor’s degree;
  • Master’s degree;
  • PhD or higher doctoral degree in any field.

You can also apply for this visa if you have completed any of the following:

  • a law conversion course that is approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority;
  • Legal Practice Course in England or Wales, or Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or a professional legal practice diploma in Scotland;
  • Bar Practice Course in England and Wales, or Bar Course in Northern Ireland;
  • foundation programme in medicine or dentistry;
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education;
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Education.

Besides, you can apply for a UK Graduate visa if you have completed a course that allows you to work in the area regulated by UK law or a UK public body.

Requirements for Educational Provider

British colleges and universities have to meet two main requirements:

  1. An educational institution must have a sponsor licence. This document proves that the Home Office allows this college or university to teach foreign students. The educational institution must be included in the Register of Sponsors that is published on the government website.
  2. A college or university must also have a track record of compliance. It means that this educational institution:
    • Has received approval from the Home Office for four years;
    • Complies with all the requirements for the institutions that teach foreign students.

When Can I Apply for UK Graduate Visa?

You can apply for a UK Graduate visa after you have successfully completed your college or university course, if it is shorter than a year, or before you complete it (for courses longer than a year) but not earlier than 12 months after you begin your studies.

To complete your course successfully, you need to attend all theory and practice sessions. Even if you cannot take an express course, you will not be able to apply for a UK Graduate visa in less than 12 months after your study begins.

How to Apply for UK Graduate Visa?

You need to submit an online application for a UK Graduate visa before your Student visa expires. To do this, you need to confirm your identity and submit all the required documents. If you need to add your spouse, partner or children to an application as dependants, they also need to submit an online application.

You can apply for a UK Graduate visa the moment your education provider confirms that you have successfully completed the course even if the classes are not over and you have not received your certificate or diploma yet.

The application is processed within eight weeks. There will be no delays if you have filled in the form correctly and submitted all the necessary accompanying documents. To save your time and avoid any risks of refusal, it is better to contact qualified immigration advisors.

What Documents Are Required to Apply for UK Graduate Visa?

  1. Valid passport or any other form of ID;
  2. Biometric residence permit (BRP) that a UK Student applicant gets on arrival to the UK;
  3. Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from an educational institution which proves that an applicant has been accepted;
  4. Proof of relationship with your spouse or partner and children if they are added to your application for a UK Graduate visa;
  5. Letter from your sponsor confirming your application if they have been paying your tuition fees and covered your living costs in the UK for the last 12 months.

A proof or relationship as well as a letter from your sponsor must be in English or you must get certified translations of them.

Proving Identity When Applying for UK Graduate visa

To prove your identity, you need to scan your BRP with a special application called “UK Immigration: ID Check”.

If, for some reasons, you cannot scan your BRP or passport with the application, you will be asked to visit one of the biometric centres where you will have your fingerprints and photos taken.

  • UK-based authorised immigration advisors
  • Official representation in front of the Home Office
  • Analysis of potential risks of refusal
  • All necessary certificates, documents and cover letters collected and prepared
  • Certified translation of documents
  • Application filled in according to all requirements
  • Legal support and consultations at all stages

How Long UK Graduate Visa Is Valid for

A UK Graduate visa lasts for two or three years (depending on the applicant’s education). It cannot be extended as it is issued for graduates to find a permanent job or launch their business in the UK.

Therefore, in two or three years, you will need to switch from your UK Graduate visa to another visa (for example, obtain a UK Skilled Work visa or one of business visas), or leave the country. You should keep in mind that a UK Graduate visa does not lead to settlement, or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), in the UK.

Costs of Applying for UK Graduate Visa

An applicant for a UK Graduate visa needs to pay an application fee and a health surcharge. 

An application fee amounts to £715. If your application is refused, the Home Office will not refund this fee. Therefore, if you do not know how to fill in your application correctly and properly prepare accompanying documents, contact regulated immigration advisors.

A health surcharge amounts to £624 per year per applicant. For example, as the main applicant, you will pay £1,248 for two years of stay on a UK Graduate visa. If you add two dependants to your application, the costs will grow to £3,744. The health surcharge is paid fully when you apply for a UK Graduate visa. If your visa is refused, you will get your money back.

Imperial & Legal qualified specialists have years-long experience of helping foreign nationals to relocate to the UK and EU, launch their business here and get quality education with top universities.

A UK Graduate visa is a relatively new immigration route with a high potential. Since applicants for a UK Graduate visa are already UK residents who have British education and speak good English, Imperial & Legal immigration advisors do their best to carefully prepare application documents to avoid visa refusals and save a client’s time and money.

With our legal assistance, you will promptly obtain a UK Graduate visa and avoid any additional costs because the risks of refusal will be eliminated at the stage of preparing documents and filling in an application. You will get your UK Graduate visa in a few steps.


Contact Imperial & Legal
Timeframe: 1 day

Imperial & Legal specialists are regulated immigration advisors. A consultation can be held face-to-face in an office or remotely via an audio or a video call in Zoom/Skype. During the consultation, your advisor will get to know your case, listen to your comments and answer all your questions. After you sign a contract with us, our experts will proceed with your case.

Prepare documents and submit an application

Timeframe: 1–3 weeks

Imperial & Legal immigration advisors act as your official representatives till you get a final decision from the Home Office. Our experts will prepare a list of documents that will be required from you to get a UK Graduate visa, have them translated into English, draft a cover letter and prepare your application – fill in an online form, pay an application fee and submit an application. Then you will have to choose the date and time of your visit to one of the UK visa centres to submit biometrics and upload all the necessary documents into the system. 

Get your UK Graduate visa

Timeframe: up to 8 weeks

An application for a UK Graduate visa is processed within 8 weeks. After your application is approved and you get your visa, you can search for a job or launch your business in the UK.

Imperial & Legal do not just help you get a visa, we also offer comprehensive support with all the issues concerning relocation to another country, like searching for a comfortable flat or enrolling children into a nursery or school.

Switch to another visa, apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and UK citizenship

Timeframe: 5–8 years

If you plan to stay in the UK, depending on the validity period of your UK Graduate visa, you need to contact your legal advisor two months prior to its expiry to switch to another immigration route. This is required to continue working and running a business in the UK and then apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), for example, if you switch to a UK Skilled Worker visa or one of the business visas.

In three to five years after switching to a long-term visa (depending on its type), you can apply for ILR if you meet all other requirements. Imperial & Legal specialists will prepare all the necessary documents and help you prepare for an English test and the Life in the UK test. 

In a year after obtaining ILR and after at least five years of staying in the UK on a long-term visa, you can apply for British citizenship. Our immigration advisors will help you prepare and submit all necessary documents so that you obtain a certificate of naturalisation and a UK passport. 

Success Stories on UK Graduate Visa

FAQ about UK Graduate Visa

When does a UK Graduate visa start?

A UK Graduate visa is valid from the moment your application is approved. Before it expires, you need to switch to another immigration route as this type of visa cannot be extended.

How can I check if my education provider has the required record of compliance?

To get a UK Graduate visa after you complete your course, you need to choose an education provider from the Register of Sponsors. Each valid sponsor must have “Student Sponsor – Track Record” ticked in the Status section.

But even if an education provider has this record, it does not mean that it cannot be revoked in the future. That’s why you need to check the reliability and reputation of the chosen sponsor carefully. It is better to consult Imperial & Legal specialists on this matter at the stage of applying for a UK Student visa.

Can the stay on a UK Graduate visa be included into the time that I need to spend in the UK to obtain an Indefinite Leave to Remain?

A UK Graduate visa does not lead to settlement, so your stay on a UK Graduate visa is not included into the time that you need to spend in the UK to apply for ILR. You need to switch to a long-term visa for this.

Therefore, after you switch to a new immigration route, e.g. Skilled Worker, you will still have to live and work in the UK for at least five years to get an ILR.

However, your stay on a UK Graduate visa can be included into a 10-year period of required time spent in the UK to obtain an Indefinite Leave to Remain on common grounds.

Are there any special programmes for EU citizens?

Unfortunately, after Brexit, there are no special programmes for the citizens of the EU, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland or Liechtenstein. If a national from these countries applies for a UK Graduate visa, they must meet the same requirements as any other applicant.

The only exception applies to the EU citizens who have applied for EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021 and got a pre-settled or settled status. They are allowed to use the benefits of EU Settlement Scheme. Besides, the EU nationals who have family members in the UK and could not apply for residence before 30 June 2021 for a good reason will be able to do this. Such residents will not need a UK Graduate visa to stay in the country.

Is it true that applicants from some European countries pay a smaller application fee?

Yes, it is. If you are from Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, North Macedonia, Slovakia, Turkey, Finland, France, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Sweden, the application fee amounts to £645 that is £55 less than for nationals of other countries. However, this discount is applicable only to the main applicant. All dependants pay full fees.

After Brexit, the EU citizens enjoy no special benefits concerning relocation to the UK.

Do you want to be self-employed or run your own business in the UK?

Imperial & Legal qualified specialists will help you obtain the required visa and launch a company in the UK. Contact us for more details.