Human Resources


Graduate visa route

Guidance for Prospective Employees, Current Employees, Recruiting Managers and Administrators

Overview of the Graduate visa route

The Graduate visa gives permission to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing a course in the UK.

The graduate visa will start from the day the application is approved and lasts for 2 years, or 3 years if a PhD or other doctoral qualification.

It is an unsponsored route, therefore the individual can switch employers and there are no restrictions on working hours.

There is no option of extending the Graduate visa and therefore if an individual wants to remain in the UK, they will need to look at switching to a different visa category, for example, a Skilled Worker visa. Please view the Skilled Worker information for further information on eligibility for this visa type.


For a student to be eligible for a Graduate visa, they must meet the criteria below:

  • Currently in the UK
  • Current visa is a Student visa or Tier 4 (general) student visa
  • They studied a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree or other eligible course for a minimum period of time with their Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • The education provider (e.g. university or college) has confirmed successful completion of the course

The UKVI website provides further information on whether the course studied is eligible.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a Graduate visa cost?

The application fees are available here and as part of the visa application, you must pay a NHS Surcharge. 

What documents do I require to apply?

You can find all the documents you require here

Can my family join me in the UK on my Graduate visa?

If your partner and / or children joined you in the UK as ‘dependents’ on your current Student visa (or Tier 4) then they can apply to stay as dependents on your Graduate visa.  For more information on eligibility for the dependents Graduate visa and the link for them to apply, visit the UKVI Graduate visa information. Everyone will need to complete a separate application and pay the fee. 

How long does the Graduate visa application take?

Once you have completed the application process including proving your identity and providing your documents, the decision will be received within 8 weeks.  While you await the decision you can stay in the UK. 

Can an applicant be appointed to an open-ended position on a Graduate visa?

This depends on the individual’s situation and the role that the individual is applying to or been offered. It is advisable that prior to applying for a job the applicant ensures that they investigate whether they would have leave to remain beyond the graduate visa to fulfil the open-ended contract. For example, at the end of the graduate visa would they and the role meet the criteria to switch into the Skilled Worker visa. If the applicant is not sure they can contact the Recruitment Team or the HR Immigration Team.  As a recruiting manager, please ensure you discuss with Human Resources if the role you wish to offer is open-ended and the applicant is on a Graduate visa, prior to making the offer where possible.