Graduate visa

Are you an international student studying in the UK? Are you interested in gaining work experience in the UK after you complete your studies? If so, the Graduate visa may be right for you.

The Graduate visa, also known as the post-study work visa, is a type of visa that allows international students to remain in the UK for a period after they finish their studies. It is available to students who have been awarded a degree at a UK university and allows them to work or look for work in the UK for up to two years (or three years for PhD graduates). This visa is intended to give international graduates the opportunity to gain work experience and contribute to the UK economy, as well as potentially qualify for other immigration routes in the future.

Why is the Graduate visa important?

Firstly, it gives international students the chance to gain work experience in the UK after completing their studies, which can be an asset when applying for jobs in the future. Secondly, the graduate visa can be a pathway to other immigration routes, such as the Skilled Worker visa, which require applicants to have work experience in the UK.

Thirdly, graduates who gain work experience in the UK through the Graduate visa can improve their employability both in the UK and their home country. This can be particularly beneficial for graduates who want to work for multinational companies or pursue international careers.

Graduate visa and working

You can work at any salary or skill level, and change jobs. The one exception is that you may not work as a professional sportsperson or coach.

In most cases, students are allowed to work for 20 hours a week during term times and full-time outside of term time. You should check your BRP to ensure that your student permission allows you to work. The Student Immigration and Visa Services Team can issue you a letter outlining term times to demonstrate to your employer that you have permission to work, what hours, and when.

You can work while you wait for the outcome of your graduate visa application. If you were allowed to work under your Student visa permission, you will continue to be allowed to work under the same conditions while you await the outcome of your Graduate visa application. Remember your work restrictions are 20 hours within term time.

How to apply for a Graduate visa

You can apply from the date the university confirms your successful course completion until the date of your visa expiry.

You must apply from within the UK. You must not travel or leave the UK whilst an application is under consideration.

You must apply online via the gov.uk website.

Graduate visa and dependents

When you have your Graduate visa, you cannot apply for dependents to join you from outside the UK.

Only those who are already in the UK as your Student visa dependents can apply as dependents on your Graduate visa. It is therefore important that your dependents join you in the UK before your Student visa permission expires.

Further questions about Graduate visa

Does my grade affect my visa application?

Your final award must be the one that was listed on the CAS you used to obtain your current Student or Tier 4 visa.

What is the difference between a Graduate visa and a Sponsorship or Skilled Worker visa?

For a Graduate visa, you do not require sponsorship from an employer or academic institution, unlike the Skilled Worker or Student visas. There is also no financial requirement, nor a requirement to demonstrate your English language level.

I was sponsored by a third party to cover my tuition fees, can I apply for a Graduate visa?

How tuition fees are paid is irrelevant, and we would stress that you will need a letter of award from the University to confirm successful completion of studies before applying for the Graduate visa. The Student Immigration and Visa Services Team will inform you of when this has been reported to UKVI.

My Student visa has expired, can I apply for a Graduate visa?

No. You need a current Student Visa to apply. If your student permission has expired, you should seek urgent legal advice from an accredited advisor. It is important for you to adhere to the immigration rules of your student visa. 

Can I stay in the UK while I await the outcome of my Graduate visa application?

Yes – you must remain in the UK pending a decision to your application. If your application is submitted before your student visa expires, your student permission Is extended until you receive the outcome of your graduate visa application.

When are my term times?

These are set by the University.  Term times are from your first academic engagement in a semester until your last. For example, if you are writing your dissertation your term will start at the beginning of the academic semester and will end after your final submission deadline. If you are taking modules with classes, the term will end after your final exam/coursework submission deadline.

Semester dates

When does my course finish?

Your studies are complete only when you reach your course end date as stipulated on your Certificate of Acceptance of Studies.

How can we help you?

Our Student Immigration Team specialises in student immigration to the UK and we are here to help you with advice and support for your visa application.

If you are facing significant delays and are going to miss the start date of your course please let us know as soon as possible.

To ask a question or request an appointment with an advisor please email studentimmigration@stir.ac.uk.