Understanding the UK Graduate Route Eligibility and Process

On July 1, the UK launched the Graduate route, a new immigration route allowing international graduates to begin and build their careers in the UK after they have finished their studies at a UK university.

Understanding Graduate Route Eligibility and Process

Launched July 1, 2021, this new route will allow international students to remain in the UK for up to 2 or 3 years after they complete a course of study, to work, or look for work without limitations.

Who can apply?

Students who graduated on or after July 1, 2021, with a college or post-graduate degree, and who spent a minimum of 12 months* whilst studying their course in the UK. Applicants must hold a Tier 4 visa or other Student visa at the time of applying.

*There are concessions for students who began their studies in 2020 to account for international travel disruptions.

When can they apply?

As soon as their education provider confirmed they have successfully completed the course. They do not have to wait until their graduation or issuance of their certificate.

What are the terms of the visa?

Successful applicants will be able to remain in the UK for an additional 2 years (college degree) or 3 years (post-grad). They will be able to look for any work and will not require sponsorship. They can continue to study, provided their course does not require sponsorship.

What happens at the end of the visa?

Candidates will be able to switch to other visa routes, including the Skilled Worker or Global Talent, provided they can prove their eligibility.

Are dependents allowed to stay in the UK?

Dependents of students already residing in the UK can apply to extend their stay under the Graduate visa route. Once the visa has been granted new dependents are not permitted to apply under this route.

Does the visa count towards settlement in the UK?

No. The Graduate visa will not count to the overall years spent in the UK required to be granted the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Some students may prefer to switch to another visa that will count towards ILR, provided they are eligible.

Where and how to apply?

The candidates should apply on the official GOV.UK website.

What are key benefits for employers?

The Graduate Route is a cost-effective solution to hiring new graduates:

  • No budget required for sponsorship
  • No time required for approval
  • No requirement to prove qualifications


Erickson Immigration Group will continue to send updates as more news is available. If you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions, please contact your employer or EIG attorney.