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Graduate Route

The Graduate Route will be launched on 1st July 2021

Graduate Route information session 

The UKCISA webinar on the new Graduate Route is now live on their website.The webinar covers eligibility, applications and work options under the Graduate Route, followed by a Q&A.  

You can view the recording of the webinar at this link.


What is the Graduate route?

The Graduate route is a visa is available to international students who have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance and who have a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time of application. The Graduate Route will replace the Doctorate Extension Scheme visa once it comes into effect. 

Most successful applicants can stay for two years under the Graduate route. PhD graduates can stay for three years.

In order to meet the requirements of the Graduate route students will need to:

  • have successfully completed an eligible course at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance;
  • have existing permission for that course as a Student or Tier 4 visa holder at the point of application; and
  • make their application in the UK. 
  • Have held had a Student/Tier 4 Visa for at least 12 months if studying for a course longer than 12 months and for the full duration of their course if the course is 12 months or less. (pls see exceptions below for those graduating in 2021)

Please note: you must not have previously held permission on the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES). 


When do I have to return to the UK if I want to apply for the Graduate route in 2021?

  • Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 via distance learning, and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course will be able to make a Graduate route application if they make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK on or before 21 June 2021 to complete their course.
  • Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2021 via distance learning and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course will be able to make a Graduate route application if they make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK on or before 27 September 2021 to complete their course.
  • Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 who have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and who have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to make a Graduate application as long as they are present in the UK before the end date of their course.

  • Students sponsored for a course lasting longer than 12 months will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate route as a result of any distance learning that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021. For example, you are an undergraduate student with a Tier 4/Student visa who entered the UK to start their programme in September 2018.  You then spent time outside the UK distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 and intend to successfully complete your course in June 2021. To be eligible for the Graduate route, you must return to the UK and submit your application before your Student visa/Tier 4 visa expires.

  • Please note that if you hold a visa type other than a Student/Tier4 visa and you have been distance learning from the beginning of your programme then you will need to apply for a Student Visa from overseas before returning to the UK to be eligible for the Graduate Route in 2021.


When do I have to return to the UK if I want to apply for the Graduate route in 2022 or beyond? 

  • If your course started at any time and is more than 12 months in duration, then any time that you spend outside the UK distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 will not prevent you meeting the Graduate route eligibility requirements.  In these circumstances, you must return to the UK and apply for the Graduate route before your Student visa/Tier 4 visa expires. 

For example, you are an undergraduate student with a Tier 4/Student visa who entered the UK to start their programme in September 2019.  You then spent time outside the UK distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 and intend to successfully complete your course in June 2022.  To be eligible for the Graduate route, you must return to the UK and submit your application before your Student visa/Tier 4 visa expires. 


Can my family members apply with me?

Dependent family members will be permitted on the Graduate route, provided those family members are in the UK and had last been granted permission as dependants of the main applicant on the Student/Tier 4 route. New dependants will not be permitted, except where a dependent child was born in the UK during a period of Student or Graduate permission.


 How do I submit an application for the Graduate route?

The Graduate route will require a new visa application, which will only be possible from inside the UK. It will include the payment of a visa fee of £700 and the Immigration Health Surcharge at the full rate of £624 per year. Students will also 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.


When can I start working on the Graduate visa? 

While your Graduate route application is pending, you can continue to work under the conditions of your Student or Tier 4 permission. See information about working in the UK

When your Graduate route permission is issued you can do any work, can take work at any level of salary or skill, be either employed or self-employed, except working as a professional sportsperson or coach.


Can I study on the Graduate visa? 

The rules state that you cannot study any course which could in theory be sponsored under the Student route.  

Examples of permitted study would therefore include:

  • Part-time undergraduate course
  • English language courses
  • Some professional courses
  • Online study
  • Evening classes
  • Recreational courses

If you are unsure whether you can study a specific course under the Graduate route, please contact the Student Immigration Compliance Team on AskUCL

Further information about the new visa route can be found on the Home Office website and the UKCISA website