Stay in the UK on a Graduate Visa

If you have recently finished a course in the UK and want to extend your stay, then a Graduate Visa might be for you.

A Graduate Visa (sometimes called a Post-Study Work Visa or PSW Visa) allows people who have successfully completed an eligible course in the UK to stay in the country for up to two years (three years if you have a PhD or other doctoral qualification) from the day your application is approved. 

A UK Graduate Visa allows you to:

  • Remain in the UK to look for work
  • Work for a UK employer (in most jobs)
  • Become self-employed
  • Volunteer
  • Travel abroad and return to the UK (while the visa is valid)

If you want to continue to study, you can only do so on a Graduate Visa if the course you choose isn’t suitable for a Student Visa. If your chosen course is eligible for a Student Visa, you can choose to extend your current Student Visa before it expires to continue studying.

A Graduate Visa also permits your partner and children to continue living in the UK with you, providing they are eligible and were listed as dependants on your Student Visa. 

A UK Graduate Visa does not permit you to:

  • Work as a professional sportsperson
  • Access public funds (e.g. benefits, State Pension)

Eligibility criteria for a UK Graduate Visa

You must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible to apply for a Graduate visa:

  • You have to be in the UK on a Student Visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa when you apply
    • Important: Your current visa cannot be expired when you apply
  • You have studied a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate or other eligible course on your Student or Tier 4 visa
    • The following vocational courses are considered eligible by UK Visas & Immigration:
      • 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)
      • A Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)
    • If you have not completed any of these qualifications, but your course made you eligible for a job that is regulated by either a UK public authority or UK law, you may still be able to apply
    • If you have changed course during your Student or Tier 4 visa, you only need to have completed the course you changed to
  • You need to have studied in the UK for the total length of your course (if it’s shorter than 12 months) or for at least 12 months if the course is longer than 12 months. Leaving the UK for short periods such as at weekends or during term breaks does not count against the 12 month requirement. You will however need to have been in the UK whenever required by your education provider (e.g. for lectures or tutorials). 
    • An exemption to this rule is available for individuals whose studies were impacted by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
    • If your Student Visa or Tier 4 Visa was for more than 12 months, time spent studying outside the UK between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2022 can be counted as time spent studying in the UK for the purposes of applying for a Graduate Visa.
    • If your Student Visa or Tier 4 Visa was for 12 months or less, you can apply if either of the following are true:
      • you started your course before 21 June 2021 and you entered the UK on a Student Visa on or before 27 September 2021
      • you started your course between 21 June 2021 and 30 June 2022 and you entered the UK on a Student Visa on or before 30 June 2022
  • Your education provider (e.g. university or college) must have notified the Home Office that you have successfully completed your degree

You do not need a job offer for this visa. If you are not eligible for this visa, you may still be able to apply for another type of visa to visit or stay in the UK.

UK Graduate Visa application process

Once your application has been submitted to UK Visas & Immigration, it usually takes around 8 weeks to find out if you have been approved. The following documentation must be supplied in order to apply for a UK Graduate Visa:

  • An official document showing your nationality and identity (e.g. a valid passport)
  • The CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) number given to you by your education provider when you were first offered a place on the course you completed on your Student or Tier 4 visa

You may also need to provide one or more of the following:

  • Your BRP (biometric residence permit) if you were given one when you applied for your Student or Tier 4 visa
  • Proof of relationship with your partner and/or children if they are applying to stay in the UK with you
    • Your ‘dependants’ must have joined you in the UK on your current Student or Tier 4 visa in order for them to stay in the UK as dependants on your Graduate Visa. If they didn’t, they may still be able to join you if you switch to a different visa like a Skilled Worker visa.
    • Each family member must complete a separate application and pay the visa fee to stay with you in the UK – this usually also takes around 8 weeks.
  • If you had a scholarship or sponsorship provider paying for your course fees or living costs in the last 12 months, they will need to provide a letter approving your application
  • A certified translation of your documents if they are not in English or Welsh

UK Graduate Visa application costs

The Graduate Visa application fee is £822. You can usually expect to receive a decision within eight weeks of submitting your application.

You will also need to pay a healthcare surcharge for each year that your visa will be valid for. The healthcare surcharge is payable in advance at the time your application is submitted.

If you work in the health and care sector, you may be eligible to apply for a refund of the healthcare surcharge. Alternatively, you might want to consider applying for the cheaper Health and Care Worker Visa, which does not incur the healthcare surcharge.

If you’re unsure whether you need a visa or how to apply, you can seek advice from one of our qualified migration agents below.

Neveen Galal

Neveen is a UK Immigration Solicitor with over 20 years experience in UK Immigration Law. She represents corporate and individual clients seeking assistance with any visa category to the UK. Neveen is a graduate of Westminster University, from which she was awarded the 2021 Westminster Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award.

Neveen’s rapid career trajectory saw her progress at pace from paralegal to Head of Department level, and then to earning a place on her firm’s Board of Directors by the age of 28. This achievement was recognised by Who’s Who placing her in their directory of ‘Britain’s Business Elite’ in 2008. Neveen then went on to establish her own boutique Immigration Law Firm in the City of London in 2015. She also co-founded the Hexagon Legal Network in 2017.

Neveen is passionate about all aspects of UK immigration law, and is committed to providing bespoke residence and citizenship solutions to citizens across the globe that wish to relocate to the UK. Neveen’s immigration advisory services are predominately geared towards highly skilled workers and companies wishing to have a UK presence, however she and her team of experienced immigration advisors can also assist with partner-based applications, student visas and all other personal and business immigration matters.

If you would like to discuss your UK immigration matter or have any questions about your options for immigrating to the UK, you can book a consultation here.