If you are looking at the various UK education visas available for foreign students, you may be wondering “What is the UK Graduate visa?” Foreigners who are about to finish school or a degree in the UK who would like to spend more time in the country should seriously consider applying for the UK Graduate visa, which allows eligible applicants to remain in the country for a minimum of two—three years. In addition to providing an overview of the UK Graduate visa, today’s blog will also answer FAQs you may have considered about this particular visa category, including, “How do I apply for a UK Graduate visa?” And “Who is eligible for the graduate route in UK countries?” And finally, “How long can you stay in the UK after a masters?” The answers to these questions—and a detailed explanation of the visa length (and of permission and conditions)—can be found below. 

What is UK Graduate Visa?

  • The UK Graduate visa is available to students who have recently finished school in Britain and wish to remain in the country for an additional two or three years, depending on whether they recently concluded a bachelor’s degree or master’s/PhD, respectively. 

How do I apply for a UK Graduate Visa?

Follow these below steps to apply for the UK Graduate Visa: 

  1. Determine if you are eligible
    • Who is eligible for the graduate route for UK countries? The graduate route visa to UK is open exclusively to those are currently residing in the country on either a Tier 4 General Student visa or Student visa who have finished all of the course requirements for the educational program they were originally granted a student visa for. 
    • Courses eligible for the Graduate visa include those through which an applicant was granted one of the following UK degrees:  
      • Bachelor’s degree. 
      • Post bachelor’s degree (including master’s and PhD).
      • Additional courses (including certain ones pertaining to law, dentistry, medicine, and education).
    • Please note that only applicants who have been enrolled in a course of study for a minimum of half a year—or for the entirety of a selected program’s duration (if that period of time is shorter) are eligible to apply for a Graduate visa. 
    • Please note that to qualify, you must have been physically present in the country—i.e. actively engaging in study—in order to fulfill this requirement. However, if you do not meet this requirement because COVID-19 restrictions prevented you from actively studying from within the country, you may be exempt from it.  
    • In addition to possessing one of the above degrees, the educational entity you received your degree from is required to be both a licensed sponsor and someone with a “track record of compliance” as per the terms of your visa graduate program.  
  2. Review the visa length of permission and conditions
    • Make sure that you are aware of all of the terms and conditions of the UK Graduate visa prior to applying (including how long you can stay in the country should you receive one). 
    • While Graduate visa holders are able to pursue many forms of employment in the country (including self-employment), and are able to exit and re-enter the country without restrictions, they are exempt from seeking UK welfare and being employed as a pro-athletes.
    •  Additionally, Graduate student visa holders should be mindful of the restrictions of studying in the UK while on their visa (holders are exempt from studying in the country unless they cannot otherwise enroll in the educational program they wish to pursue under the terms of their former Student visa).  
    • How long can you stay in UK after a master’s? Please note that the UK Government does not currently allow for Graduate visas to be extended. What this means is that, if you come to the end of your two year (or three year, for PhD recipients) visa validity period and wish to stay longer in the country, you must either leave the country and apply for a new visa or switch into another visa category. 
  3. Determine when you need to apply 
    • You should apply for your UK Graduate visa prior to the expiration of your current UK education visa. 
    • Graduate visa applications can be submitted upon receipt of confirmation of course completion from your school. Official confirmation does not need to  be in the form of either a graduation certificate or a graduation ceremony, so long you have written documentation from the school attesting to your course completion.
  4. Gather your required documents 
    • As part of your graduate route visa for the UK, you will have to submit a number of required documents as part of the application process. These include the following: 
      • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) (relevant only for those who already hold one).
      • Passport (valid, not expired). 
      • Reference number from your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), which you would have received on your original Student/Tier 4 visa application. 
      • (If you were being academically sponsored for the past year) written evidence that said sponsor approves of you seeking a Graduate visa (only if your rent or education was covered by said scholarship source). 
      • (If your family is also seeking a visa) Evidence of how you are related to them. 
    • Please note that if you submit any documents in a language other than either English or Welsh you will have to submit an official translation of those documents into either of those two languages. 
  5. Apply online 
    • The actual application process for the UK Graduate visa is, for most applicants, entirely online. 
    • Once you have all of your required documents and materials ready, you can access your visa graduate application online (contact us here when you are ready to start filling out your visa graduate application). 
  6. Pay your UK Graduate visa costs 
    • Your online application will usually allow you to submit payment for your visa online. 
    • UK Graduate visa costs can vary according to where you apply from, but they are typically £700, which is not inclusive of other costs related to finances as well as healthcare (which typically costs £624 yearly).
    • Please note that current Student visa holders who are considering Graduate visas who are working in healthcare when they apply may prefer to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa to avoid paying certain costs (for more information on this visa category, contact us here). 
    • UK Graduate visa holders from the below states will be charged £55 less than applicants from all other countries: 
      • Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey.
  7. Confirm your identity 
    • Applicants for the UK Graduate visa must confirm their identity by either scanning their passport or their BRP into the official “UK immigration ID Check App” (the method they select will reflect whether they are from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland, or whether they are not from any of those places, respectively. 
    • Those who lack the ability to upload their biometrics into the UK Immigration ID Check app must therefore go in person to submit their biometric data at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) center. 
  8. Await your decision 
    • The processing time for the UK Graduate visa is usually eight weeks, although it can take longer in certain situations. 
    • Once you receive your decision, you are free to pursue your graduate route for the visa to UK countries (i.e. your UK visa graduate program). 
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