Graduate route

Last modified: 06 February 2024

The Graduate route is for those who have a degree or other relevant qualification from an approved UK higher education provider. Your application does not need sponsorship or any endorsement by an employer or by your institution.

To apply you must have a UK degree or other relevant qualification that you received during your current period of Tier 4 or Student permission. Successful applicants are granted 2 years leave in the UK, and PhD graduates are granted 3 years.

The Graduate route is only open to those who have successfully completed their course and who have valid Student or Tier 4 permission when they apply.

The following information on the Graduate route is based on information published or updated by the Home Office:

Find out more about international graduates' experiences of finding employment in the UK after graduation. 

Where, when, how to apply

Last modified: 06 February 2024

The Graduate route has important conditions relating to where and when you can apply. Read through this guidance carefully so that you understand how to apply appropriately.

Where to apply

When to apply

How to apply


Last modified: 18 December 2023

It is important to note that you can only hold permission under the Graduate route once, so try to make sure that you consider your options in full before committing to the route.

Current immigration permission

Relevant qualification and successful completion

Study in the UK 

Money, fees, and knowledge of English

Studies sponsored by a government or scholarship agency

Your institution's responsibilities


Last modified: 08 November 2023

Although the Graduate route is relatively flexible (particularly around employment), there are some important conditions that are applied to those under the route. Details on these conditions are listed below.



Extending your stay

Practical matters: travel, money, job hunting, and council tax



Last modified: 21 December 2021

Only dependants that are already in the UK as your Tier 4 or Student dependant (partner and/or child under 18) can apply as a dependant under the Graduate route. This means that if your dependants are outside the UK, and you wish for them to receive Graduate route leave alongside you, they must join you under the Student route first. As with the main applicant, there is no maintenance requirement for a Graduate route dependant.

There is no deadline for them to join you on the Student route in the UK, other than your current Tier 4 or Student visa expiry date. Therefore it is important your dependants join you in the UK before your Tier 4 or Student visa expires. If your dependant does join you when you have less than six months remaining on your visa, please note that they will not pay the immigration health surcharge and would be liable to pay for any NHS treatment they receive until they successfully become a Graduate route dependant.

The Graduate route caseworker guidance confirms (page 20) that a dependant does not need to apply at the same time as the main applicant. A Student dependant's deadline for switching to Graduate dependant is therefore the expiry date of their Student dependant permission.

A child who applies must have both their parents in the UK, and the parents must either be applying at the same time or already have immigration permission, except as a Visitor. The three exceptions to the requirement that both parents must be in the UK are the same exceptions as for a Student dependant application. The application would need to include evidence that either the Graduate route applicant is the sole surviving parent, or they have sole custody of the child, or that "there are serious and compelling reasons to grant the child permission to stay with the [Graduate route applicant". 

As with someone switching from Student to Graduate, someone who applies to switch from Student dependant to Graduate dependant who themselves had a government or agency scholarship for UK study must have the consent of the financial sponsor for their Graduate dependant application. See above: "Studies sponsored by a government or a scholarship agency".

We asked the Home Office to allow everyone to bring dependants under the Graduate route, not just those who could already bring dependants under their Student permission. The Home Office did not agree to this. This leaves all those switching in from a part-time postgraduate course and most applicants switching in from an undergraduate course unable to bring dependants.

If this affects you, and if it is important to bring your dependants to the UK, you may want to prioritise switching from the Graduate route into another work route, for example Worker, as soon as possible. Alternatively, your dependant may be able to apply for a long-term visa in their own right for study or work, or use a Standard Visitor visa to visit you for a maximum of six months.

Your Graduate route dependant will have the same work conditions as you. The only prohibition is on working as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.

Receiving your decision

Last modified: 21 December 2021

The Home Office website has a guide to current processing times for all types of application.  It says that,

"You should usually get a decision on your [Graduate application] within 8 weeks once you’ve applied online and either attended your appointment at a visa service centre or submitted your documents using the ID Check app [...]"

The Home Office guide for Graduate route applicants has detailed information on pages 4 and 5 about receiving your decision and accessing your e-visa.

While your application is pending

After your Graduate route permission is granted

Experiencing the Graduate route

Last modified: 01 June 2023

What is it like to find employment in the UK after graduation? 

International graduates from across the UK have shared their experiences of seeking employment in the UK after graduation in short case studies. 

They've shared their experience of:

  • Applying for the Graduate route visa.
  • Getting support from their universities.
  • Knowledge and attitudes of the Graduate route from UK employers.
  • Useful tips and advice for anyone looking to apply to the Graduate route after graduation. 

Read their stories

Frequently asked questions

Last modified: 18 December 2023

What is the earliest point I can apply for the Graduate route?

What is my deadline to apply for the Graduate route?

What if my Tier 4/Student permission expires before I receive my results?

How long does it take for my institution to report my successful completion?

Do I need to use the whole period of Graduate route leave? Can I split up the leave I am granted?

Can I have more than one job whilst on the Graduate route?