UK Graduate Visa
What is the UK Graduate visa?
The UK Graduate visa is an immigration route designed to ensure those who have graduated from a UK university or institution can remain in the UK following their degree to search for employment or otherwise decide on their future. The route was one of the major new additions to the UK’s immigration system following Brexit, and will officially launch to applications on 1st July 2021.
How do you Qualify for a Graduate visa?
The criteria for a Graduate visa is as follows:
- Completed Degree: The Graduate visa route is accessible to any international students who have successfully completed a degree at either undergraduate level or above from a registered Higher Education Provider.
- Track Record of Compliance: An applicant’s degree can be in any subject or field, but they must have a track record of compliance from their HEI to be eligible for the Graduate visa. This essentially means that the applicant has not broken any Student visa immigration rules and has appropriately engaged educationally with their chosen degree.
- Valid Student Visa: Graduate visa applicants must have a valid student visa before they apply for the Graduate route. This means that applications for the Graduate visa route must be submitted before your Student visa expires.
There is no minimum salary amount or financial requirement for the Graduate visa and there is also no cap on the number of applicants who can access the route each year. However, as applicants are presumed to be within the UK as they require a valid Student visa to be eligible, applications for the Graduate route can only be made from within the UK.
How Long is the Graduate Visa Granted for?
A successful Graduate visa is granted for 2 years. If an applicant has completed a PhD or doctorate level qualification, then the Graduate visa will be granted for a total of 3 years.
Regardless of whether you are granted a visa for 2 years or 3 years, the Graduate visa is not extendable. If Graduate visa holders wish to remain in the UK for longer than the years granted on their initial visa, then they must switch into a new immigration route.
What Restrictions Are There on a Graduate Visa?
The primary purpose of the Graduate visa is to aid newly graduating international students in their search for employment within the UK. Thanks to this, there are no restrictions on work for UK Graduate visa holders.
Graduate visa holders can take up employment in any position, with no minimum salary amount. Anyone possessing a Graduate visa is also able to switch their jobs at any time without it affecting their visa. However, if someone with a Graduate visa wishes to remain in their employment after their Graduate visa expires, they will need to switch into the Skilled Worker route. To do so, they will need a job offer in keeping with that route’s minimum salary amount, and will also need to meet other Skilled Worker visa criteria like obtaining a Certificate of Sponsorship.
Full information regarding Graduate visa restrictions have yet to be finalised by the Home Office at the time of writing. If you do have a question about this or have other specific Graduate route questions, make sure to contact us directly.
Can You Include Family Members on a Graduate Visa?
Yes, but only if they were already dependants on your Student visa. If your partner or children under the age of 18 came to the UK with you on your Student visa, they will be able to apply to extend their stay for the duration of your Graduate visa. Children who are born during your stay on a Student visa are also eligible for this option.
New dependants are not permitted on the Graduate visa route. This means if your dependents did not come to the UK with you on your Student visa, they will not be able to join you on your Graduate visa either.
How Much Does a Graduate Visa Cost?
The application fee for a Graduate visa is currently £700 per applicant. This does not include any dependents, as they will need to pay an additional fee to extend their current stay.
Both Graduate visa holders and their dependants must also pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for each year granted by their visa; this is currently £624 per year.
Does a Graduate Visa Lead to ILR?
Much like with a regular Student visa, time spent on the Graduate visa does not directly lead to an accelerated ILR.
However, time spent on the visa does contribute towards applications made under Long Residency. This means that if you spend a total of 10 years in the UK, the time you spent on the Graduate visa will be eligible in an ILR application.
How Can We Help?
White Rose Visas can assist with any Graduate visa applications; we can advise you on your options, as well as help you prepare your documentation and submit your application, with assistance every step of the way.
If you’re currently on a Graduate visa and are looking to switch to the Skilled Worker route or an alternative visa, we also have extensive experience with in-country visa switching applications. To find out more about the help we can provide, make sure to contact us directly, using the details below.