The Graduate Visa offers a wonderful opportunity for overseas students to extend their stay in the UK. Graduates can stay in the UK and work or look for work for two years. Doctoral students will be able to stay for three years upon completion of their studies. There are many advantages to this route. Students do not have to have a job offer to qualify for the visa, and there are no maintenance or English language requirements. The visa is a wonderful incentive for prospective overseas students, as they now know that they will have the option to stay in the UK after their studies to secure a career.
Table of contents
- How to qualify for the Graduate Visa
- Overseas students who are currently in the UK can apply for the Graduate visa, provided they fulfil the following criteria;
- It is also possible to qualify if you have completed certain courses such as:
- When and where to apply for the Graduate Visa
- Length of Stay
- Switching to another UK Visa route
- Right to Work and Further Studies
- Spouses and Dependants
- Immigration Health Surcharge
- Indefinite Leave to Remain
- How Breytenbachs can help you
How to qualify for the Graduate Visa
Overseas students who are currently in the UK can apply for the Graduate visa, provided they fulfil the following criteria;
- You have to have a current Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa.
- Studied a UK Bachelor degree, UK Master’s degree or a postgraduate degree or another eligible course.
- The study course must be for at least 12 months or the full length of the course, whichever is shorter.
- They have successfully completed the study course.
It is also possible to qualify if you have completed certain courses such as:
- A law conversion course approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority;
- 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);
- Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE);
- Courses that make you eligible for a job regulated by UK law or a UK public authority.
When and where to apply for the Graduate Visa
One of the most important things to keep in mind if you want to apply for a Graduate Visa is that you have to be in the UK when applying for the visa. The Home Office also recommends that you do not leave the Common Travel Area while waiting for the decision on your application. You have to apply for a Graduate visa before your current Student visa or Tier 4 (General) visa expires. You do not need to graduate before applying. As soon as your education provider informs you that you have successfully completed your study course, you can apply. You can stay in the UK while you wait for the decision.
Length of Stay
If you successfully apply for the Graduate Visa, you will be allowed to stay in the UK for two years. Applicants who successfully completed a PhD or other doctoral qualification will be allowed to stay for three years. The visa starts from the day the application is approved.
Switching to another UK Visa route
Unfortunately, It is not possible to extend the Graduate Visa. However, holders of the visa should find work that will enable them to switch to other work-based immigration routes, such as the Skilled Worker route. Moving to these routes will allow applicants to settle in the UK eventually. Please speak to one of our consultants to determine whether you are eligible to switch to another immigration route.
Right to Work and Further Studies
The Graduate Visa is an unsponsored route. The route allows you to work in any job at any level. You can also be self-employed or do voluntary work. The visa thus offers complete work flexibility, and visa holders can switch jobs and develop their careers as they wish. However, you cannot work as a professional sportsperson. There are certain rules if you wish to study while on this visa. Holders of the Graduate Visa will not be allowed to study if the chosen course is eligible for a Student visa. You also cannot study at a state school.
Spouses and Dependants
Your partner and children can apply to stay with you in the UK if they are eligible. To be eligible, the dependants must currently be your dependants on the Student visa. If you have a child who was born during your current Student visa, they can also apply. You thus cannot bring ‘new dependants’. New dependants (dependants who did not accompany you to the UK during your Student visa) may only be able to join you from outside the UK once you switch to a different type of visa.
The Home Office classify ‘dependants’ as any of the following:
- A husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
- Children under 18 years, including any children born in the UK during your stay on the student visa.
- Children over the age of 18 years if they are currently in the UK as your dependant.
Immigration Health Surcharge
Applicants and their dependants have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of the visa application.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
Unfortunately, the Graduate Visa does not lead to settlement in the UK. However, the visa will allow you to find suitable employment that will enable you to switch to other work-related immigration routes that lead to settlement. Our consultants will be able to discuss possible routes with you, such as the Skilled Worker Visa.
How Breytenbachs can help you
Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants have a dedicated team of consultants specialising in the UK Student Visa routes and Graduate Visa. If you want to apply for a Graduate visa, please get in touch with one of our consultants. Breytenbachs will guide you through the process.