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 and are awarded 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.

When can I apply?

In general any application should be made in the UK:

  • While you still hold Student visa permission
  • After your degree has been awarded
  • After the University has confirmed your eligibility

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 by your Programme Board or the Doctoral College Office.  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.

Generally a Student visa will be valid for 4 months beyond the expected end of studies given on a CAS.  If you complete studies within the expected timescale there should be sufficient time for you to receive confirmation of your degree award and Graduate route eligibility to apply to switch to the Graduate route prior to Student visa expiry.

You can find more information about the application and your eligibility for the Graduate route below.

How can the University Support you?

You can find guidance on various visa topics on the University’s webpages. These webpages include the most common visa related topics, questions and issues.

You should always use the webpages first however if you require advice or guidance beyond what is covered on the webpages you can contact the Student Advice and Support Service. 

More Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

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.  

You cannot choose the length of permission you wish to apply for but neither are you required to remain in the UK for the full duration of any visa granted. 

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.

Does the Graduate route time count towards the five-year working route to permanent residence?

No, but it can count towards the 10 year long residence route to permanent residence.

What about family members?

Family members who already hold permission as your Student dependant will also be able to apply to continue to stay as your dependant under the Graduate route.  Dependent family members must also apply while in the UK either at the same time or after the main applicant. They will each have to pay the same application fee and IHS. 

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.

Last Updated: 6th January 2023