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Graduate Route

Graduate Route

Graduate Route
Post Study Work Visa

The Graduate Immigration Route is a new post study work visa that was launched on 1 July 2021. Permission to stay under the Graduate route will enable international students to work or look for work after their studies for 2 years, or 3 years for PhD students. 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 to be granted permission under the route after successful completion of 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 Route 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 this 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 as the relevant qualification. 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 permission, you can use that new course as the relevant qualification.

    If the course provider changed the name of your course without changing the content, or if they added an assessed work placement or study abroad programme, this does not stop you meeting the qualification requirement
  • You must have a valid Student or Tier 4 visa at the time of application (excluding Doctorate Extension Scheme visa holders)

  • If your Student or Tier 4 permission expires before 1 July 2021, you will not be eligible to apply (unless you can extend your Student permission first, and meet the other requirements). Please note: the Home Office confirmed that those whose Student or Tier 4 visa has expired, but have valid exceptional assurance, will be able to switch into the Graduate route.

  • 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 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

The Cost

  • The application fee is £700.
  • The Immigration Health Surcharge fee at £624 per year of the visa.

Length of Permission

  • If your Graduate route application is successful, you will be able to stay in the UK for two years (extended to three years for PhD or doctorate level graduates).
  • The period of Graduate permission granted 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. The visa also allows self-employment. 

  • Study will be permitted, but ONLY if it does not meet the requirements for study under the Student route.

    Examples of permitted study would therefore include:
    - English language courses
    - Online study
    - Evening classes
    - Recreational courses

  • The visa cannot be extended and does not lead to settlement, but Graduate visa holders will be able to switch into the Skilled Worker route once they have found a suitable job.

  • Applicants will only be able to hold the Graduate visa once.


  • Individuals who are already in the UK as a dependant of a Student who is 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 of a Student will also be eligible. 

Important eligibility information for students that have studied remotely during the pandemic

Concessions have been put in place owing to the pandemic. Students who have been studying remotely will still be able to apply for the Graduate route as long as the eligibility requirements outlined above are met. You will need to be in the UK by a certain date depending on the course and your circumstances:

  • If you are on a course of 12 months or less which started in 2020 and have not yet travelled to the UK to study that course, you will need to have arrived before your visa ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner. Please note this has been updated from the previous deadline date of 21 June 2021.
  • If you are on a course of 12 months or less which started in 2021 and have not yet travelled to the UK to study that course, you will need to have arrived by 27 September 2021.
  • If you started on a course of 12 months or less which started in 2020 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 in time to apply for the new Graduate route by the expiry of your current Tier 4 / Student visa.
  • If you are studying a course longer than 12 months, you will need to have returned to the UK in time to apply for the new Graduate route by the expiry of your current Tier 4 / Student visa.

Further Information

Visas & Immigration
V&I Webpage
International Student Support
ISS Webpage