UK Graduate Visa Guide

The United Kingdom’s Graduate Visa has emerged as a game-changer for international students aspiring to build their careers in the UK after completing their studies. Introduced in 2021, this post-study work visa offers an excellent opportunity for foreign students who have successfully completed a course at the UK bachelor’s degree level or above with a Home Office-approved higher education provider. In this detailed guide, we’ll explore the eligibility criteria, application process, costs, and recent updates, providing you with valuable insights into making the most of the Graduate Visa.

Understanding the Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the UK Graduate Visa, certain criteria must be met:

  1. You must be in the UK.
  2. Your current visa should be a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa.
  3. You should have completed a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree, or another eligible course with your current visa.
  4. Your education provider must inform the Home Office that you have successfully completed your course.

It’s essential to check your course’s eligibility and the duration you need to have studied in the UK to qualify for the Graduate Visa.

Duration of Stay

The Graduate Visa typically lasts for 2 years, and for those with a Ph.D. or other doctoral qualification, it extends to 3 years. This visa allows you to work in various job roles across a wide range of UK businesses, providing you with valuable work experience.

However, it’s important to note that the Graduate Visa cannot be extended. If you wish to stay longer in the UK, you may explore options like switching to a different visa, such as the Skilled Worker visa.

Application Process and Timing

To apply for the Graduate Visa, you must submit your application online. Your partner and children can also apply to stay in the UK if they meet the eligibility criteria. The application must be submitted before your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa expires.

The decision-making process typically takes up to 8 weeks after you’ve submitted your application online, proved your identity, and provided the necessary documents. During this period, you are allowed to stay in the UK.

Financial Considerations

When applying for the Graduate Visa, certain costs need to be considered:

  1. £822 application fee
  2. Healthcare surcharge, usually £624 for each year you’ll be in the UK

If you work in public sector healthcare, alternative visa options may be available, such as the Health and Care Worker visa, which is both cost-effective and does not require the annual immigration health surcharge.

What You Can and Cannot Do with a Graduate Visa

The Graduate Visa offers a range of opportunities, including the ability to work in most jobs, look for work, be self-employed, continue living in the UK with eligible family members, do voluntary work, and travel abroad with the flexibility to return to the UK.

However, certain restrictions apply, such as the inability to apply for most benefits (public funds) or the State Pension, and restrictions on working as a professional sportsperson.

Studying with a Graduate Visa

While the Graduate Visa primarily focuses on work opportunities, it allows limited study options for courses that are not eligible for a Student visa. If your course is eligible for a Student visa, you can extend your Student visa instead.

Update: Spring 2024 Review of the Graduate Visa

In Spring 2024, the UK government has initiated a review of the Graduate Visa, reflecting its commitment to ensuring the route aligns with the country’s best interests. The Migration Advisory Committee will assess the effectiveness, potential abuse, and the future career paths available to international graduates.

Businesses relying on international talent should closely monitor these developments, as the outcomes of the review may impact future recruitment strategies. It underscores the importance of staying informed about any changes to the Graduate Visa route and adapting strategies accordingly.


In conclusion, the UK Graduate Visa provides a valuable pathway for international graduates to kickstart their careers in the UK. By understanding the eligibility criteria, application process, and staying updated on recent developments, you can make informed decisions to maximize the opportunities offered by this post-study work visa.

Why Instruct Our Specialist Immigration Solicitors?

At DJF Solicitors, our team of specialist London immigration lawyers will always act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meetings, we will be able to advise you in respect of your prospects of submitting a visa application before your application even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of a visa application and are able to advise you in respect of your prospects and to ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.

Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our expert London Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss your visa application.

Contact Us

For professional guidance and assistance with your application, contact our immigration solicitors on 02030110276 or complete our contact form.

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