Routes after study

Information for routes after study - the Graduate Route.

Graduate Route

What is the Graduate Route?

The UK government opened the Graduate Route on 1 July 2021. This immigration route is for international students who want to work in the UK following the successful completion of either a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, or PhD (or another type of doctoral qualification). Eligible students switching into the Graduate route will be able to work or look for work after their studies for a maximum period of 2 years (or 3 years if you have successfully completed a PhD).

Am I eligible?

To qualify for the Graduate Route, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You must be in the UK and have a valid Tier 4 or Student visa;
  • you must have successfully completed your course during your current Tier 4 or Student visa and it must be the same course for which your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) was assigned;
  • You must have had a Tier 4 or Student visa for the duration of your course. You cannot switch to the Graduate Route from any other type of visa;
  • If you have studied a course of 12 months or less then you must have studied the whole course in the UK, and for a course of more than 12 months, you must have studied in the UK for at least 12 months. However, there is a concession in place for those who have not been able to study in the UK due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, students who began their studies from September 2021 and will complete their course in the 2021/22 academic year, will need to arrive in the UK by 30 June 2022 or before their visa expiry date (whichever is the sooner date);
  • There are no financial requirements to meet (apart from the application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge), however, if your tuition fees and living costs have been paid by a government and/ or an international scholarship agency within the 12-month period before you apply, you must provide a letter showing the financial sponsor's consent to this application under the Graduate route;
  • You can only have a Graduate route visa once. While it is possible to switch from the Graduate route back to the Student route, you could not then apply again under the Graduate route based on a new qualification.

There may be other conditions that may affect you, so please consult the information provided by UKCISA on the Graduate Route. You will need to ensure that your individual circumstances do not prevent you from applying for the Graduate Route.

How do I apply for the Graduate Route?

If you are eligible, you can only apply in the UK. There is no provision to apply in your home country or in any other country other than the UK. If you are currently outside the UK with a valid Tier 4 or Student visa, you will need to travel to the UK before your visa expires in order to apply for the Graduate route (please see the details above).

To apply for the Graduate Route, you will need to have successfully completed your course and had confirmation from the University that we have reported your successful completion to the Home Office. You will also need to quote the CAS number you used to obtain your current visa in the application form. As stated above, you will need to check that your individual circumstances make you eligible for the Graduate Route.

Your deadline for applying for the Graduate Route is the expiry date of your Tier 4 or Student visa. As long as you apply by this date, your current permission is automatically extended until the outcome of your application, even if its original expiry date has passed.

Leaving the UK

When you have completed your programme we need to ensure your immigration record is up to date for your situation. This is to ensure that the Home Office has the most accurate understanding of your situation so that your immigration record will be ready for you to make new visa applications to the UK if you need to do so.

When do I need to leave the UK?

You must leave the UK on or before the expiry date of your current visa.  If you do not leave the UK before your visa expires you have overstayed.  Overstaying is a criminal offence.  You should start making the arrangements to return to your home country as early as possible.

If you have completed your programme much earlier than was originally expected or have had your current visa curtailed or withdrawn, the Home Office will write to you to confirm a new expiry date for your visa which will replace your previous expiry date.

What do I need to provide to the University?

Once you have returned home, please supply your flight details to the University.  You should also provide an e-ticket and either boarding card or passport stamp to

How do I return for Graduation?

If your Student Visa has expired, this cannot be extended or re-issued for the Graduation ceremony.

You can return to the UK to attend Graduation using the Standard Visitor Visa route (a visa that can be used for general/tourism purposes in the UK). You can read about and apply for the Standard Visitor Visa.

The University can also issue you with a letter to support your Standard Visitor Visa application.