Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

International Student Advice and Support

Visa Advice

Graduate Route

This is a brief overview of the Graduate immigration route which commenced on 1 July 2021. The route provides eligible international students with Tier 4 or Student visas an opportunity to stay in the UK to work or to look for work, after completing degree level studies.

Loughborough University (including the London campus) is a ‘Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance’ and therefore our ‘graduates’ will be eligible.

The route is for students who complete their degree while holding a Tier 4 or Student visa.  It does not depend on whether or when any graduation ceremony takes place after the completion of studies.

The Home Office guide to the Graduate route includes the link for online applications (see below for further application information).

When can I apply?

Before any application is made the University will have to confirm to UKVI that your degree has been awarded.  The Student Office/Doctoral College Office will automatically do this for eligible Tier 4/Student visa holders and email each student when it has been done.  They aim to report to UKVI and notify all eligible students as soon as practically possible, this should be within a week of the degree award being published.  If you are not notified as expected, please check with the relevant office.  Otherwise there is no need for you to notify the University whether you intend to apply to the Graduate route but you must not apply before you have received confirmation of the degree report to UKVI. 

Am I eligible?

Loughborough University (including the London campus) is a ‘Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance’ and therefore our ‘graduates’ will be eligible.

The Graduate route application will not require any other evidence of your degree outcome (eg transcript or degree certificate), you will need to confirm your previous CAS number and UKVI will use this reference to link to the degree report.  The University e-mail confirming your eligibility for the Graduate route will include your CAS number for ease of reference.  In accordance with University regulations all tuition fees must have been cleared to allow a degree award.

During your most recent grant of Tier 4/Student visa you must have successfully completed:

  • The degree for which your CAS was issued, this can include when a work placement or study abroad has been added later. If the course title has been changed but the content has remained the same this will be accepted, or 
  • An alternative course that you were allowed to take instead of that detailed on your CAS without having to apply for a new visa, or
  • Either the bachelor’s or master’s degree if your CAS was issued for an integrated undergraduate master’s.  Beware that not all undergraduate master’s routes at the University will necessarily permit the award of a bachelor’s degree instead, this will depend on your programme and you may need to check options with your School administration. 

If you do not achieve the grades required for a degree you may qualify for a lower award eg a post graduate diploma instead of a master’s or a certificate or diploma of higher education in place of a bachelor’s degree.  However, these lower-level qualifications are not acceptable for Graduate Route eligibility.

If you hold Tier 4/student permission as a Student Union sabbatical officer you may still be eligible if you obtained the relevant degree with Tier 4/Student permission immediately before your current permission.

In general* studies should have been undertaken in the UK while holding Tier 4 or Student permission for a minimum period, the minimum period depends on the length of course:

Total length of course

Relevant period of Student permission granted during which all study took place in the UK (apart from permitted study abroad programmes)

12 months or less

Full duration of course

Longer than 12 months

At least 12 months

 

*There are concessions for students if their programme has allowed distance learning outside the UK due to Covid-19:

  • Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or spring 2021 via distance learning, and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course will be able to make a Graduate application if they make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK either before their visa ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner.
  • Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 who have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and who have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to make a Graduate application as long as they are present in the UK before the end date of their permission.
  • Students who commence a course of 12 months or less in autumn 2021 or spring 2022 via distance learning from overseas must enter the UK no later than 6 April 2022 and complete that course of study in the UK with permission as a Student to be eligible for the Graduate Route. Students should travel once they are able to do so.
  • Students sponsored for a course lasting longer than 12 months will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate route as a result of any distance learning that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 or any distance learning which took place overseas between 27 September 2021 and 6 April 2022. If a Student’s current permission expires prior to 6 April 2022, they must enter the UK prior to the expiry of their Student permission rather than 6 April 2022.

Can I apply if I hold / have held permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES)?

If you have previously held permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) you will not be eligible for the Graduate route.

How long will my Graduate permission be?

The length of Graduate visa permission is fixed:

  • Undergraduate, PGCE and master's degree graduates are allowed to stay for two years.
  • PhD graduates are allowed to stay for three years. 

Graduate permission can only be granted on one occasion. It will not be possible to extend Graduate permission but it will be possible to switch into another route if you meet the requirements.

Do I need a job offer?

Unlike most other work visas you will not require an employer to act as a visa sponsor – if you are eligible you can apply as an individual.  The visa will carry a flexible right to work allowing you to work full or part-time or self-employed. Employment as a professional sportsperson is not permitted.

Are there any limits on my stay in the UK?

Graduate permission allows you to stay in the UK and re-enter the UK for work related purposes (including seeking work) as long as it remains valid. Within this period there are no set time limits on how long you must stay in the UK or how long you are allowed to be absent, nor is there a set limit on how many times you can be absent.

Can I study on Graduate permission?

Graduate permission does not allow study that could be sponsored under the Student route.   This would prevent the vast majority of formal academic study at a university or college, other types of study including evening classes or recreational courses are permitted.

Do I need to provide any evidence with my application?

The visa application does not require you to show you have a certain amount of money for your maintenance. You do not need to prove your academic qualifications or English language ability.

If your studies have been fully sponsored for all tuition fees and living expenses in the previous 12 months by a government or international scholarship agency you will need a letter from your former sponsor consenting to you staying longer.

When can I apply?

You will need to submit an application to UKVI whilst remaining in the UK.  This should be done after your degree result has been confirmed and before your current Tier 4/Student permission expires.  As Tier 4/Student permission is typically 4 months longer than studies there should be sufficient time to do this.  If you complete your studies with any other type of visa you will not be eligible, e.g. students who re-enter the UK to complete a short period of reassessment or a viva and corrections as a visitor.

Family Members

You will be able to include family members who already hold permission as your dependant in your Graduate route application (you will have to pay the same application fee and IHS for each dependant).  Dependent family members must also apply while in the UK.  If a child is born in the UK while you hold Tier 4/Student or Graduate permission they can apply for permission to stay as a new dependant, otherwise, there are no general provisions to add new dependants under the Graduate route.

How much does it cost to apply?

You will need to pay an application fee (£700) and the Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year of visa i.e. either £1,248 or £1,872 if a PhD graduate.

Will I be eligible if I have to take reassessments?

Graduate route eligibility does not depend on whether you need to take reassessments to obtain your degree.  However, you must have Student permission at the time that your degree is awarded and when you apply.  If your studies are extended and your degree award is delayed beyond your current Student permission, in order to retain Graduate route eligibility, you will likely have to register to take reassessments with attendance rather than opt to take reassessments without attendance.  A CAS and Student permission can be issued to allow attendance to studies but not solely for the purposes of an assessment or potential Graduate route eligibility.  Our separate guide gives further information on visa implications of changes to study

The application process

Applications are made online using the link here.

The process is fully digital; generally everything can be completed online. Once you have applied, there are two ways to verify your ID:

1.       “UK Immigration ID Check” app

You can complete this process on your phone if you have an Android phone (with NFC) or iPhone 7 or above. If you do not have a suitable phone available, you can use a friend’s as no information is stored on the phone after the process is complete. 

2.       In-person appointment

If you cannot use the app e.g. you do not have a suitable phone, you have lost your BRP or the chip within your BRP is damaged, you should complete the application process online and book an in-person appointment to provide your biometric data.  You may be charged extra for a biometric appointment and the processing time can be longer this way.

When your application is granted, you will receive an e-mail containing a PDF of your decision letter as well as confirmation of your digital status. The digital status will enable you to prove your right to live and work in the UK online e.g. to employers or landlords.

Visa nationals will also be issued a new Biometric Resident Permit (BRP)