News & Insights

Graduate route visa

Employers can employ or retain graduating students without having to obtain sponsorship.

Many employers recruit international students during their studies.  Now, employers can recruit international students after their studies if they obtain the new Graduate visa which is available to UK graduating students this summer.

The Graduate route (launched on 1 July) provides an opportunity for international students who graduate with a degree, to look for work at any skill level for two years, or three years for doctoral students.

The route is unsponsored, meaning employers do not need a sponsor licence to employ migrants with this visa.  There are no restrictions on the type of work, skill level of role or minimum salary requirement (except NMW legislation) for the visa route, therefore employers can offer any type of work to migrants who have the Graduate visa.

Who is eligible to apply?

The route is available to students, who have completed a degree or a specified professional qualification from a Home Office registered educational sponsor.

Students need to have completed the course in the UK however, there are some exemptions for COVID-19 absences, for which specific concessions have been agreed.

The student must have completed their course of study and hold a valid student visa at the time of making an application.  They do not have to show any savings or evidence of their English language (It is accepted because of registration with UK educational establishment).


Students may apply once their educational establishment has sent the final course results. The application must be made in the UK and they cannot leave the UK until a decision is received.  The cost of an application is £700 plus the Immigration Health Surcharge at £624 per year of visa.  The dependant can apply and will also have to pay the application fee and IHS charge.

The application process is different to the initial student visa application.  For the vast majority of applicants, the process will be digital, therefore the visa issued will be an eVisa.  The application will be completed online, where migrants create an account with UKVI to submit biometrics and verify their identity using an APP called ‘UK Immigration ID Check’ (The APP is free and is compatible with Android phones and iPhone 7 or newer models).

Prove right to work to an employer

If the migrant has applied using the digital route, they can view their immigration status online and share their right to work status with an employer using the View and Prove service on GOV.UK.

Once in the UKVI account, the View and Prove service allows the migrant to:

  • View the eVisa and check their rights in the UK;
  • Prove status to employers, landlords, by generating a ‘share code’ (giving access to specific data for 30 days);
  • Update personal details.

If the migrant is unable to apply using the APP, they must make an appointment to visit a UKVCAS.  They also cannot currently create a UKVI account or share their right in the UK with third parties. This is due to change in the future when many visa routes will be available electronically.

What are the conditions of the graduate visa?

Under the Graduate route, the migrant may take up extra study, but this cannot be with a student sponsor on a course which would meet the requirements of a Student visa, and no study is permitted at a state school.

Migrants cannot bring family members from abroad, but those already in the UK as Student dependants may apply as the graduate’s dependant.  The Graduate route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement.

Migrants may be able to switch to the Skilled Worker route or into another work route if they meet the relevant requirements.

We expect this route to be utilised by thousands of students in the UK, with opportunities arising for employers to recruit migrants without needing sponsorship.

If you have any questions about the content of this article or need any assistance with recruiting migrant workers, please get in touch with Imelda Reddington: [email protected].