Graduate Immigration Route

Information about the UK government’s graduate work visa for international students with a Student or Tier 4 visa.

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Overview

This route was introduced at 9:00am on 1 July 2021.

The following information is based on the following guidance:

Immigration Rules Appendix Graduate

Graduate Caseworker Guidance

The new route will allow you to apply for a visa to remain in the UK for two years after your studies so you can look for work or start work at any skill level, or 3 years if you have completed a PhD.

It is a flexible post-study work visa that does not require you to have a job offer or sponsorship from an employer before you apply. It will allow you to look for or undertake work at any skill or salary level.

You should not submit a GIR visa application unless you have been informed by the ISSAC team that your successful completion has been reported to UKVI. You will receive an email informing you of this. If you apply before you get this, your application may be refused.


Eligibility requirements

For your application to be valid, you must:

  • submit your application in the UK; and
  • have a valid Student or Tier 4 visa at the time of application; or
  • have held valid permission on the Student or Tier 4 (General) routes which expired, but either one of the paragraph 39E exceptions for overstayers applies or you have been given a period of exceptional assurance and have not overstayed that period; and
  • have written permission to make the Graduate visa application from your official financial sponsor if they have given you money in the last 12 months. This only applies if your financial sponsor was a government sponsor or an international scholarship agency. This is a validity requirement. Where your financial sponsorship was from The University of Sheffield, please see the example template letter at the bottom of the page. If your sponsor was a government or an international scholarship agency, but they did not cover your full tuition fees and living costs, and you cannot get a permission letter from them, there is another template that you can download at the bottom of this page.

For you to be eligible:

  • you should have successfully completed a full Bachelors or Postgraduate degree (eg Masters or PhD) or one of the other specific alternative qualifications confirmed by UKVI (see Eligible qualifications (student login required)). Most non-degree awarding qualifications, such as Certificates or Diplomas, are not eligible for the Graduate route; and
  • the University must have notified UKVI that you have successfully completed your course before you submit your visa application, and
  • you should have successfully completed your course during your most recent grant of Tier 4 or Student leave (There is an exception for sabbatical officers who can rely on previous grant of student leave)
  • you must have not previously been granted a visa under the Graduate Immigration Route or Doctorate Extension scheme, and
  • you must also have completed a relevant period of study in the UK on the relevant visa type (see the next section below, 'Study in the UK requirement').

Eligible qualifications

To be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa you must successfully complete a full Bachelors or Postgraduate degree (eg UG, Masters, PhD) or one of the additional relevant qualifications below:

  • a law conversion course validated by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales
  • the Legal Practice Course in England and Wales, the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland
  • the Bar Practice Course in England and Wales, or the Bar Course in Northern Ireland
  • a foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry
  • a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)
  • a professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public authority.

If you are not studying for a qualification stated above then you will not be eligible for the Graduate visa.


Study in the UK requirement

There is a requirement that students have undertaken a ‘relevant period’ of study in the UK.

  • If your course is longer than 12 months, you must have held a Student visa for at least 12 months and have been in the UK for all studies that took place during this period (see the section on remote learning below); or
  • If the length of your course is 12 months or less, you must have spent the full duration of your course studying inside the UK on a Tier 4 or Student visa. (See the section on remote learning below)

The length of your course and UK study requirement is based on the course start and end dates in your CAS statement. You should check your CAS to see if your course is more or less than 12 months in duration, and therefore how long you need to have studied in the UK to be eligible for the Graduate Route.

Remote learning and Covid 19 concessions

Due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, many international students will have been learning remotely outside of the UK. UKVI has published some Covid 19 concessions. It will still be possible for you to apply for the GIR visa if you return to the UK by a specific deadline.

  • If you are on a course longer than 12 months, any period of remote learning will not count against you if it took place outside the UK between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2022. By 30 June 2022 you should have returned to the UK to continue studying in-person.

  • If you are on a course of 12 months or less, which you started in Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022, any period of remote learning will not count against you if it took place overseas and you travelled to the UK no later than 30 June 2022 to complete your course in-person.

  • If you're on an articulated degree and only sponsored for a Student visa for 12 months, you will be treated as being on a course of less than 12 months, even if your degree course is over 12 months. You should follow the deadlines for students on courses of less than 12 months.

Periods of study or travel overseas

The UK location requirement to be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa should not be impacted where the following occur, and the University will still report your eligibility to UKVI:

  • You study for a period overseas as an approved part of your course and your visa sponsorship continued during this period, e.g. a placement or fieldwork
  • You have had a short period of authorised absence approved by your department during which you travel overseas, e.g. 1-2 weeks of absence due to exceptional circumstances.
  • You travel overseas during University vacation periods and after you have completed studies

If however you change your study location and your visa sponsorship is withdrawn, for instance you apply to study your dissertation from overseas or otherwise study overseas without approval, you will not be eligible for the Graduate visa.


Successful completion

To be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa you must successfully complete your course and obtain an eligible qualification (see ‘Eligible Qualifications’ section above).

Successful completion means you have completed your course and, in most cases, have received your final results and have been awarded your qualification. You must wait until you receive your Graduate visa email notification from ISSAC to confirm your eligibility before you apply for the Graduate visa.

You must have successfully completed either of the following:

  • The course that was stated on your most recent CAS statement e.g. the specific course your current visa was issued for;
  • The course that you have been permitted to change to and have remained on the same visa, eg you have had a formal programme change approved before completing studies;
  • The lower level of the integrated masters/ PhD course that was stated on your most recent CAS statement, eg you exit with the BEng version of the MEng course your visa was issued for.

This means that in most cases if you complete your course with a different or lower award than stated on your CAS without having formally changed programme beforehand you would not be eligible for the Graduate visa. This would include where you are on a masters course but complete with a PG Diploma or Certificate instead, or where you change to a different integrated masters course and remain on the same visa but then complete with the lower award of the new integrated course. 


Making an application

Cost

The application fee is £715.

You will also need to pay a £624 Immigration healthcare surcharge upfront at the time of the application. It is the same cost for any dependants (Child dependant pay £470 IHS fee per year).

The IHS fee is non-refundable should you decide to leave the UK before the end of your visa or switch to another type of visa.

Please note you will not need to show evidence that you hold a certain amount of funds to apply for the Graduate route. However, you should carefully consider how you will support yourself in the UK and meet your living costs, for example if you do not find work straight away.

Application process

The application process is slightly different to what you experienced when you applied for your student visa, and for most applicants it will be entirely digital.

Sign in/create account

You’ll need to sign into an existing UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account, or create a new one.

Prove your identity 

As part of the application you will need to prove your identity, to do this you will need to download the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app

This will require you to use a phone or other device which is compatible with the app. Most android phones and iPhones (series 7 onwards) will be compatible. If your phone does not have the required NFC settings, it is possible to use someone else's device as no records will be stored on the phone. It may be possible to arrange to use a device via the ISSAC team if you are having difficulties with this.

If you’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you usually do this by scanning your passport with the app. If you’re not from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you usually do this by scanning your biometric residence permit (BRP).

If you cannot scan your passport or BRP with the app, you’ll be asked to get your fingerprints and photograph taken at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVACS) service point.

You will also be subject to identity, criminality and security checks.

Have your CAS number ready

You will need to have your Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number which you used for your current Student or Tier 4 visa (you do not need to request a new one). The CAS number will be included in the email you receive from the ISSAC team confirming that your successful completion has been reported to UKVI.

Further guidance

Further guidance on making an application through the Graduate Immigration Route is available in the below guide:

Graduate Immigration Route: Visa Application Guide (PDF, 1.3MB)

Apply

You should only submit the application after you have been notified by email that the University has confirmed your successful completion with UKVI. If you submit before this your application may be refused.

Make a Graduate Visa application

Support from the University

The University will not be able to offer 1:1 GIR application checks. The ISSAC team will answer questions around eligibility and provide information to assist you with the application process if required.

Look out for Post Study Work talks and Graduate Route information sessions advertised via career contact.

You can access live chat here (student login required)

After you apply

You should not travel outside of the UK or Common travel area whilst your application is being processed by UKVI. If you do leave the CTA this will automatically withdraw your application.

Please note that most applicants will only receive a digital record of their immigration status or e-visa. Visa nationals will still receive a Biometric Residence permit.

You will use your UKVI account credentials to sign into the online View and Prove service on GOV.UK, which is where you can access your eVisa.

View and prove your immigration status

To sign in to view your eVisa, you’ll need:

  • Details of your passport or BRC/P you used to apply
  • Your date of birth
  • Access to the mobile number or email address you used when you applied - you’ll then be sent a code for signing in.

If you have updated your identity document or sign-in details (email address or phone number) in your account since applying, you will need to use the updated details to sign in instead.

You can view your eVisa on any device, such as a mobile, tablet or laptop.

Signing into the View and Prove service allows you to:

  • View your eVisa and check what rights you have in the UK, for example the right to work
  • Prove your status to others, such as employers, landlords or education providers, by generating a ‘share code’ which gives them time-limited access to relevant data
  •  Update some of your personal details, for example your passport number or email address. You can update your details through the ‘update your UK Visas and Immigration account details’ service or by using the ‘update details’ function in the View and Prove service.

Dependants

New dependants will not be permitted under the Graduate Immigration Route. If your dependants already have a visa as your dependant partner or child, they will be permitted to extend their visa in line with you and must apply inside the UK.

If you have children born in the UK during your most recent Student or Tier 4 visa, they will also be able to apply for a visa as your dependant.

Any dependants that have received sponsorship from a Government or International Scholarship Agency in the 12 months immediately prior to the date they submit their visa application must also provide a letter from their sponsor giving consent for them to stay in the UK whilst you are on the Graduate Route.

Please note that someone studying on a dependant visa will not be eligible to apply for the graduate route in their own right, even if they successfully complete their course. This is because there is a requirement to hold a student visa for a minimum 12 month period.


What you can and cannot do with a graduate visa

If you are granted a Graduate Visa, you will be able to:

  • Do any work (including being self-employed), except as a professional sportsperson or coach
  • Study, only if you do not meet the requirements of study that is allowed under a Student Visa
  • Switch to a Skilled Worker visa (only if you meet the requirements for this visa category)

We expect that you will not be able to:

  • Claim public funds
  • Work as a professional sportsperson or coach
  • Study at an institution that has Student Sponsor Status (including Student Sponsor Status with a Track Record of Compliance) on a course where the qualification and level of study meet the requirements for the Student visa category. For example, any course that a Student visa sponsor can issue a CAS to for a student to study under a Student Visa cannot be studied if you have a Graduate Visa. 

You will require ATAS clearance (student login required) if any study you do with a Graduate visa requires it.

If you are required to register with the police (student login required), you will also need to do this when you have a Graduate Visa.

Please note that until your GIR visa is granted you will be subject to student work (student login required) conditions - refer to the information in the 'Frequently asked questions' below.


Frequently asked questions

How and when will UKVI know I have successfully completed my programme?

Successful completion is usually when you have received official notification of your final degree results.

If you are eligible you will be sent an email to confirm if and when this information has been sent to UKVI, and this will confirm that you can proceed with submitting your Graduate visa application. Central services, not academic departments, will be uploading this information. 

We aim to do this within a few weeks of the official results being published.

The University also has to confirm that you meet the study in UK requirement and will use information on your student record to assess your eligibility. You must make sure your personal information is up to date including your visa information, study location and personal email address.

If we don’t think you’re eligible, we’ll send you an email to inform you and you’ll be given a chance to update the information.

If your visa is expiring within the next 2 weeks and you haven't received this email, please contact the ISSAC team.

What if I do not successfully complete my course?

If you have to repeat studies before completing your course then you will not be eligible for the Graduate visa at this point. Therefore, you will not receive any Graduate visa notification from the University and will not be able to apply for this visa. Your future eligibility for the Graduate visa will depend on whether you still have a valid Student visa when you receive your final results and successfully complete your course after repeating your studies. This will usually mean that you are repeating any modules internally. This will depend on whether you apply for a new Student visa for your repeat studies or resit exams, and if your individual department will provide your results before your new Student visa expiry date.

What if my visa expires on or before my results are released?

If your Student visa expires before you are due to receive your final results then you would not be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa. However if this is the case we advise you to contact International Student Support, Advice and Compliance (student login required) as early as possible so we can provide further advice unique to your circumstances.

What happens if I repeat a year?

Repeat studies may impact your eligibility for the Graduate visa. You must hold a valid Tier 4/Student visa in the UK at the time you complete your course and become eligible to apply.

If you repeat studies internally (with attendance) you will be able to request a new CAS to extend your Student visa to cover your new course end date.

If you repeat studies externally (without attendance) you will not receive a new CAS and visa sponsorship as standard. This is because in most cases students will re-sit exams on a Visit visa instead. However, if you wish you can request a new CAS to make a new Student visa application for your re-sit exam period only.

In both cases, we advise you to check with your department when you will receive your final results before requesting a new CAS. This is so you can check if your new Student visa would still be valid when you successfully complete your course, otherwise you will not be eligible for the Graduate visa despite applying for a new Student visa.

If you are repeating studies you may wish to contact us directly to check how this may impact your Graduate visa eligibility.

Contact us

What happens if my results change after the University has confirmed I can apply for GIR?

In some very limited circumstances, your results may change after you have completed your programme. This may occur if:

  • you decide to appeal your final result and wish to retake studies; or
  • your results rely on special regulations being met

If this happens after the University has informed UKVI of your GIR eligibility, the University may need to withdraw its GIR notification and you'll be advised not to submit a GIR application yet.

If possible, depending on your visa expiry date, you should only apply for GIR when you have received your final results and do not intend to appeal this and continue studying in future.

What happens if I am on an integrated masters programme and complete with a lower award?

You will still be eligible for the Graduate visa if you complete with the lower award of the specific integrated masters course that your most recent CAS was issued for. For example, you would be eligible if your visa was issued for an MEng in Chemical Engineering and you complete with a BEng in Chemical Engineering.

However, you will not be eligible for the Graduate visa if you complete with the lower award of a different integrated masters course than your most recent CAS was issued for. This would occur where you have changed to a different integrated masters course and remained on the same visa, but then complete with the lower award, for example you started on an MEng in Chemical Engineering, changed to an MEng in Computer Engineering (and remained on the same visa) and then completed with a BEng in Computer Engineering. If you are concerned about this please contact ISSAC and you may wish to apply for a new visa for your new course to ensure you meet the Graduate visa eligibility rules.

Can I switch into the Student Route from a different type of visa in order to apply for GIR?

You must have been in the UK on a Tier 4/Student visa for the relevant period of time in order to apply for the Graduate visa.

This means either 12 months for a course that is longer than this, or the full course duration of the course if it is shorter – unless the remote studying concessions apply to you.

However, it does mean you cannot switch into a Tier 4/Student visa for a short period in order to become eligible.

What happens if I have changed programme during my studies?

You will still be eligible for the Graduate Visa if: 

  • you are studying a relevant qualification; and
  • changed programme before you completed your studies; and
  • successfully complete the course you have changed to 

You should have been advised by International Student Support at the time you changed programme.

If you complete your course with a different or lower award than expected you may no longer be eligible.

I’m a PhD student, and I will have a viva. Will I be able to apply for a Graduate visa before my visa expires?

It is likely that your current Tier 4 or Student visa expires 4 months after the time limit for submission of your thesis or 4 months after your viva or expected viva date (if your viva date was not known when you applied for your visa).

The University cannot report your eligibility to UKVI until after you have submitted your corrections and until approval of your corrections has been confirmed by your examiners. Therefore, having a visa that expires 4 months after your time limit, viva date or expected viva date, may not be long enough for the University to be able to report your eligibility to UKVI, and for you to then apply for a Graduate visa, before your visa expires.

Due to this, you may wish to consider requesting a new CAS and applying for a Student visa when you receive the outcome of your viva, so you will get a visa which expires 4 months after the deadline for your corrections.

Can I extend the GIR or switch into other visas if I want to stay longer? 

You cannot extend this visa and you can only have it once.

For example, you cannot complete your masters, apply for GIR, then return to University to do a PhD and then apply again for GIR in the future.

Think about when would be the best time for you to hold the work visa.

It will be possible to switch into other immigration routes (e.g. the Skilled Worker Visa) if you found a skilled job with an employer who could sponsor you.

For further information about other post-study work visa options, visit:

Skilled worker visa

Does the Graduate Route lead to settlement in the UK? 

The GIR visa is not a direct route to settlement (unlike the Skilled Worker visa).

Time spent on the GIR route could count as a period of lawful residence, if you spent 10 years continuously resident in the UK and met the requirements for a Long Residence ILR application.

We cannot advise you on this type of application and you will need to seek specialist immigration advice. 

It will be possible to switch into other immigration routes, for example the Skilled worker visa if you found a skilled job with an employer who could sponsor you. For further information about other post-study work visa options, visit: 

Skilled worker visa

What kind of work can I do whilst my GIR application is pending? 

Whilst your application for GIR is pending with the Home Office you will still be subject to Student Visa work conditions.

If you have completed your course you can work full-time until your student visa expires, but it must not be in a full-time permanent role, unless:

- You submitted the visa application for your Student visa on or after 6 April 2022; and

- You submit your Graduate visa application in time before your Student visa expires; and

- You submit your Graduate visa application after you successfully completed your course (i.e after you receive notification that the University has reported this to UKVI)

If this applies to you, you can start a permanent full-time role whilst your GIR visa application is pending.

Otherwise, if you have been offered a permanent full-time role you should not start work until you have received the GIR visa.

Alternatively, you could work up to 20 hours a week for an employer in a permanent role, or full-time in a casual or temporary role. For comprehensive information about student work conditions, visit:

UKCISA: International student work

You can switch to start full-time permanent work for an employer if:

If you're a PhD graduate you can also apply for a Skilled Worker visa after completing one year of study.

If you have been offered a permanent skilled role and you need to start work before you have received your degree or can apply for the GIR route, you may wish to consider this route. This will require sponsorship from the employer.


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