Graduate Immigration Route

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


Overview

This route was introduced at 9.00am on 1 July 2021.

The following information is based on the following 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 which 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.


Complete intention to apply form

If you are a current University of Sheffield student or very recent graduate and you wish to apply for the Graduate Immigration Route (GIR), please complete the form below. This will help us assess your eligibility for the route, which the University is required to do by UKVI. 

Please read the instructions carefully before you submit it.  

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.

Graduate Immigration Route - Intention to Apply Online Form


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 permission from your official financial sponsor which covers both fees and living costs 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.

For you to be eligible:

  • you should have successfully completed a full Bachelors or Postgraduate degree (e.g. Masters or PhD) or one of the other specific alternative qualifications confirmed by UKVI (see Eligible qualifications). 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 Study in UK and remote learning)

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 spent at least 12 months studying your course inside the UK on a Tier 4 or Student visa (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)

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 started a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or Jan 2021 and have not previously entered the UK to study that course, you must enter the UK on a Student Visa on or before 27 September 2021, or before your visa expires (whichever is sooner) in order to be eligible. E.g If you started a masters course remotely in Sep/Oct 2020 and will complete in September 2021.
  • If you began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 and have existing permission as a Student (including those on a Tier 4 visa) to study that course, and have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, you will be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa provided you return to the UK before the end date of your current visa. 
  • If you're studying remotely on a course which is longer than 12 months, you must return to the UK before your Student or Tier 4 visa expires. You will not be prevented from being eligible for the route as a result of any distance learning outside the UK between 24 January 2020 and 6 April 2022.
  • If you're on an articulated degree and only sponsored under the student route 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.
  • If you start a course in September 2021 or January 2022, you will need to be in the UK by 6 April 2022*

* Please note that these deadlines are subject to change.


Eligible Qualifications

To be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa you must successfully complete a full Bachelors or Postgraduate degree (e.g. 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.


Making an application

Cost

The application fee is £700.

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)

  • A PhD graduate will pay £700 plus 3 x £624 = £2572
  • An UG or PGT graduate will pay £700 + 1248 = £1948

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

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.

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.

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.

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 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 if any study you do with a Graduate visa requires it.

If you are required to register with the police, 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 conditions, see FAQ below on working.


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. Please complete the intention to apply form if you want to apply for the GIR visa. 

Complete intention to apply form

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. 

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

Can I switch into the Student visa in order to apply for the Graduate visa?

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 need to repeat my final year?

Repeat studies may impact your eligibility of the Graduate visa as you must hold a valid Tier 4/Student visa in the UK at the time you complete your course and become eligible to apply. Therefore if you repeat your final year externally or without attendance you would not be sponsored for a Tier 4/Student visa for this period and be unlikely to meet eligibility requirements. You may need to repeat studies internally if you wish to apply for the Graduate visa. If your are repeating a single semester only you may wish to contact us directly to check how this may impact your Graduate visa eligibility.

What happens if I have changed programme during my studies?

If you are studying a relevant qualification and changed programme before you completed your studies and successfully complete the course you have changed to then you will still be eligible for the Graduate visa. You should have been advised by International Student Support at the time you changed programme. Please note that if you complete your course with a different or lower award than expected you may no longer be eligible.

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

If you are studying an integrated masters course and complete with the lower award, e.g. a BEng instead of an MEng, you will still be eligible for the Graduate visa.

What is the full list of eligible qualifications?

To be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa you must successfully complete a full Bachelors or Postgraduate degree (e.g. 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.


See also