The Graduate visa is a post study immigration route that allows graduates to remain in the UK for 2 years (or 3 years for PhD graduates) after their studies, to work or look for work. The work can be in any sector and at any level, without any minimum salary requirements or the need for visa sponsorship.
Students studying on a Tier 4 / Student visa will need to make an application in the UK after they have successfully completed their degree.
Below you will find some of the key Graduate Route information. Please ensure that you meet the ELIGIBILITY requirement before submitting an application under this route.
- The Graduate 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 (i.e. Queen’s University Belfast).
The following qualifications are accepted:
- an undergraduate degree
- a Masters degree
- a PhD degree or other doctoral qualification
or one of these qualifications listed in paragraph GR 5.2 of Appendix Graduate of the immigration rules.
Normally you must have completed your course during your current period of Tier 4 or Student permission and it must be the same course for which your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) was assigned.
There are some exceptions:
If your CAS was assigned for an integrated programme, and you successfully completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree as part of that programme, you can use that degree to meet the qualification requirement. This is only for degrees, not for other types of course.
If you were allowed to switch to a different course without applying for new Tier 4 or Student visa, you can use that new course to meet the qualifcation requirement.
If the University changed the name of your course but the content remained the same, or if an assessed work placement or study abroad programme was added to your course, you can still meet the qualification requirement
- You must have a valid Student or Tier 4 visa at the time of your application
- Queen’s University Belfast will need to report the successful completion of your programme to the UKVI before you can apply under this route. We will notify you by email when this is done. You must not make your application until you have received this notification or your application could be refused.
- If, in the last 12 months before the date of your application, you have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship by a Government or international scholarship agency covering both fees and living costs for study in the UK, you must provide written consent to the application from that Government or agency.
- You can only apply for the Graduate visa from inside the UK.
How to Apply
- Once you are content you have met all the ELIGIBILITY requirements, you must apply by completing an online form (see link below)
- You must submit your application:
- after you have successfully completed your programme; and
- after you have received notification that the University has informed the UKVI; and
- before your current Tier 4 / Student visa expires.
- Applicants will be subject to identity, criminality and security checks.
Apply for the Graduate Route
How much does it cost?
- The application fee for the Graduate visa is £715.
- You will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge which is £624 for each year your visa is valid for. This will need to be paid in full for the whole duration of your visa when you are making your visa application.
- You can find more information about the Immigration Health Surcharge on UKVI's website.
How long is the Graduate visa valid for?
- If your visa application is successful, your Graduate visa will be granted for two years. If you have graduated from a PhD or doctorate course, your visa will be granted for three years.
- Your immigration permission will start from the date the decision on your application is made.
The Visa Conditions
- You will be able to work, or look for work, in any sector and at any level except as a professional sportsperson or coach. Graduate visa holders can also undertake self-employed work
- Study is permitted on a Graduate visa, but only if the course cannot be studied under the Student visa route.
Examples of permitted study can include:
- English language courses
- Online study
- Evening classes
- Recreational courses
- It is not possible to extend a Graduate visa and is not by itself a route to settlement in the UK, but Graduate visa holders may be able to switch into the Skilled Worker visa route if they find an eligible job.
- Please note you can only hold the Graduate visa once.
- Family members who are already in the UK as a dependant of a Tier 4/Student visa holder applying on this route can also apply to extend their permission as a dependant. However, new dependants are not permitted on this route.
- Children born in the UK during the last grant of Student / Tier 4 permission will also be eligible.
Important eligibility information for students that have studied remotely during the pandemic
Students who have been studying remotely may still be able to apply for a Graduate visa as long as the eligibility requirements outlined above are met. You will need to be in the UK by a certain date depending on your course and your circumstances:
- If you started on a course of 12 months or less which started in 2020 or 2021 and have already travelled to the UK during your current Tier 4 / Student visa, but are currently studying remotely overseas, you will need to have returned to the UK by the expiry of your current Tier 4 / Student visa to be eligible for the Graduate route.
- If you started on a course of 12 months or less in Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022 by studying remotely overseas, you must have entered the UK no later than 30 June 2022 and complete your course of study in the UK to be eligible for the Graduate route.
- If you are studying a course longer than 12 months, you will need to have returned to the UK before the expiry of your current Tier 4/Student visa to be eligible for the Graduate route.