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Graduate Visa (Post Study Work)

The Graduate Visa (GV) will allow international graduates to remain in the UK to work or to look for work after successfully completing their studies.


The Graduate Visa route is now open. The Government has published Appendix Graduate in the Immigration Rules and the Graduate Caseworker Guidance

Who can apply?

Not all students will be eligible for the Graduate Visa (GV), especially if they have used their 'wrap-up' leave to repeat referred/deferred modules. If a student is not eligible, there are other post study work visa route options available.

The GV is open to students who have a valid Student/Tier 4 visa at the point of application. If your Student/Tier 4 visa has expired, you will not be able to apply.

Those on a part-time Student/Tier 4 visa will be able to apply.

Student Union Sabbatical Officer's with Student/Tier 4 leave will also be able to apply.

Students in receipt of a Chevening Scholarship are not eligible to apply for the GV.

Students who have previously had  a Doctorate Extension Scheme or Graduate Visa are not eligible to apply.

No other visa types will be eligible to apply.

Can current students apply?

Eligibility will be based on when you complete your studies and not when you started your studies.

Any eligible student who graduates on or after 1st July 2021 will be able to apply if they still have a valid Student/Tier 4 visa at the point of application.

Can dependants apply?

Students whose dependants are already with them in the UK on a student dependant visa are allowed to apply as a dependant under the GV. 

No new dependants can come to the UK to join you under this route.

Which courses are eligible?

Only Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Doctorate level degrees are eligible. 

If you are awarded a lower award classification, e.g. a postgraduate diploma or certificate you will not be eligible to apply unless your programme falls under one of the relevant eligible qualifications listed below.

The following relevant qualifications are also eligible:

  • a law conversion course validated by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales; or
  • the Legal Practice Course in England and Wales, the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland; or
  • the Bar Practice Course in England and Wales, or the Bar Course in Northern Ireland; or
  • a foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry; or
  • a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE); or
  • a professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public authority (please note that UKVI has confirmed to the University that OSPAP falls under this definition).  

A student must have studied in the UK for a minimum period with a Student/Tier 4 visa to be eligible.  If the course is 12 months or less, the student must have studied in the UK for the full length of the course. If the course is longer than 12 months, the student must have studied in the UK for at least 12 months.

Will I still be able to apply if I studied overseas?

As mentioned above students must have studied in the UK for a minimum period with a Student/Tier 4 visa to be eligible:

(a) A course of 12 months or less:  students must have spent the entire time studying in the UK on a Student/Tier 4 visa.

(b) A course which was longer than 12 months:  students must have spent at least 12 months of study in the UK on a Student/Tier 4 visa.

COVID Concession

The Home Office announced a special Covid concession  which allowed those students who were studying  overseas due to Covid to still be eligible as long as that period of study took place within the certain times and the student returned to the UK by a set date (see below) to continue with their studies:

Courses more than 12 months

This information is for anyone completing a course of more than 12 months, which started anytime.

Any time spent outside the UK distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 is not counted, and will not prevent the student from meeting the above requirement.

There is no specific deadline to return to the UK. The student will need to return to the UK while their Tier 4/Student visa is still valid, in order to enter the UK under that permission, and apply to switch to the Graduate route on or before its expiry date. 

Course started in 2020 or 2021 and was 12 months or less

If the student has been distance learning in their home country for the whole course so far, they will need to come to the UK under the Student route by 27 September 2021. If their Student visa ends before that date, they must come to the UK by the end date of their visa, and apply to switch to the Graduate route on or before its expiry date. 

If the student already came to the UK under their current Student visa but then switched to distance learning from their home country, they just need to return to the UK on or before the end date of their Student visa, and apply to switch to the Graduate route on or before its expiry date. 

Students who take authorised absence during term-time must be mindful if their absence will affect their eligibility for the GV.

What if I change my course?

Your final award must be the one that was listed on the CAS you used to obtain your current Student/Tier 4 visa.

However, if an integral and assessed work placement or permitted study abroad programme was added, this should not prevent you from being able to meet the qualification requirement.

If you switched course, you are still eligible to apply but only if you were allowed to transfer courses without applying for further permission on the Student/Tier 4 route. 

The University will not confirm eligibility. 

If I switch to the Advanced Research Route will I still be eligible?

If you are a placement student who must switch to the Advanced Research Route this will not affect your eligibility to apply for the Graduate Visa if you were able to transfer without the need to apply for further immigration permission.

If I switch to the one-year programme will I still be eligible?

If you are a placement student who switches to the one-year programme this will not affect your eligibility to apply for the Graduate Visa if you were able to transfer without the need to apply for further immigration permission.

If you choose to be transferred to the one-year route the University is required to notify UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI).   Once you have completed and you have been awarded, your visa will be curtailed (shortened) as you will no longer need the additional year on your visa.   You should make plans to leave the UK or switch to another immigration category (e.g. the GV) if eligible to do so.

When can I apply?

You must apply before your current student visa expires but don’t rush to apply as soon as you have completed.

 It takes time for the University to do the necessary checks before we can report completion to the Home Office.

Just because you have finished your studies it doesn’t mean you can apply straight away.   You should not apply until:

  1. You have completed and successfully passed your eligible course. You must have been notified that you have successfully passed all elements of the course; and
  2. Your final award has been ‘locked’ on your student record; and
  3. The University has confirmed to the Home Office via their secure portal that you have successfully passed.

The University will not confirm you have successfully completed your course of study until your award is locked.  If you apply before the University has confirmed your award, your application could be rejected.

Can I apply before my award is locked?

The University will not confirm you have successfully completed your course of study until your award is locked.  The locking of the award takes place once the Exam Board has sat.  For students who have used their wrap-up leave for repeats or deferrals, this can mean that their visas are due to expire before the Exam Board sits.  

If your School is able to confirm that you have successfully completed before the Board sits then we can report on that basis.  This is a decision for the School and not the Student Immigration Team.  If you are reported on this basis (ie before your award is ratified by the Board)  then you do so at your own risk and the University will not accept liability for loss incurred by yourself because of any application submitted.   If at the Exam Board, you are awarded a lower qualification which is ineligible for the GV then we must inform the Home Office.  This may affect any pending GV pending application/GV visa if it has been granted.    

If your School is unable to confirm successful completion before your visa expires there is nothing to stop you from applying.  However, we advise against this course of action as at the point of application you haven't met the GV eligibility criteria. 

If you decide to apply before we have had the opportunity to confirm successful completion with the Home Office, then you do so at your own risk.  The Home Office may refuse your application, or they may contact us asking for confirmation of completion.    If they do contact us and your award still hasn’t been locked, then we can ask them to hold your application but there is no guarantee that they will agree to this. 

If your application is refused, then you will lose the application fee you paid and will have a visa refusal on your immigration record.

If you submit a GV application before the University has reported successful completion you do so at your own risk. The University will not accept liability for loss incurred by yourself because of any application submitted. 

Remember if you are not eligible to apply for GV you can always look at other types of visas that allow you to work in the UK.

Can I apply for a visa extension so I can get my results?


You cannot get a new CAS just to wait for your results so please do not submit a CAS request as it will be refused.

You can only apply for a visa extension if you need more time to complete your studies.   

You cannot apply for a new visa simply to wait for your exam results. 

Can I travel home for a vacation after I have completed and return to the UK to apply?

It depends if you have completed your course earlier than expected. If you have completed by the course end date on your CAS, you may travel whilst your Student visa is still valid.

If you have shortened your course and will complete your studies before the original course end date on your CAS, the University must report this to the Home Office. Your Student visa will then be subject to cancellation therefore you will not be able to leave the UK and re-enter on your cancelled Student visa. This is because:

  • cancelled permission is regarded as a variation of permission [Immigration Rules Part 1 paragraph 31], and
  • the period of permission remaining will be six months or less, and
  • permission varied to a period of six months or less lapses on departure from the Common Travel Area.

The Border Force can check whether your permission has been cancelled during your absence and refuse re-entry, or can serve notice of cancellation when you request re-entry to the UK.

We would strongly advise you to apply for GV as soon as you are eligible and travel to your home country once you have received your new visa.

If I cannot apply for GV is there another visa I can apply for?


There are other types of visas that allow you to work in the UK. Please visit the UKCISA website for further details.

You may also wish to consider the option of further study in the UK.  You could then apply for GV following the successful completion of a different eligible course. 

You should not submit any visa application for which you do not meet the eligibility criteria just so you can have more time to get your results and apply for GV.  These types of applications are regarded as spurious by the Home Office and could end up costing you hundreds of pounds, a visa refusal and a mark on your immigration record. 

Can I apply if I have a University debt? 

The University will not confirm you have successfully completed if you have a debt to the University.

What if my award changes after I apply?

If subsequent to reporting your award changes we are required to report this change to the Home Office. 

If this change affects your eligibility your application will be refused.   If permission has been granted, then your new visa will be cancelled. 

Can I stop studying and apply based on my previous study in the UK?

No.  The eligible qualification must have been gained during your last grant of Student/Tier 4 leave.    You should not stop your studies to apply based on a previous degree as you will not be eligible to apply.  

How do I apply?

Applications must be made on-line

Applications can only be made from the UK.

You must still have valid Student/Tier 4 leave at the point of application.

The application fee will be £715*.   CESC nationals may be eligible for a £55 reduction to the application fee (main applicant only).  

*Please note - From 4 October 2023 the visa application fee will increase to £822 per person.

You will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) which will be £624 per year.   Degree students will therefore need to pay £1248 for the IHS.  PhD students will need to pay £1872 for the IHS.

You will be required to submit your biometrics as part of the application process.  The fee will vary depending on when and where you submit these.

You will also be required to include the CAS number you used to apply for the eligible course on the application form.  Make sure you keep a copy of your CAS number as we are unable to provide copies.

There is no financial requirement that must be met.  However, you need to make sure you have adequate funds to support yourself whilst you are looking for work.  There will be no access to public funds. 

If you were financially sponsored (all your tuition fees and maintenance) for your studies by a government or an international scholarship agency, you will need your financial sponsor's consent to stay in the UK under this route.

All applicants will be subject to identity, criminality and security checks.

What sorts of questions will I be asked?

They have designed the application process to be as simple as possible. 

Make sure you have the following information to hand when you apply:

  1. CAS number 
  2. Passport
  3. BRP
  4. Address details of where you have been living for the last 2 years (including dates)
  5. Name, address and contact number of your landlord (if you are renting)
  6. Details of any periods of 2 weeks or more spent outside of the UK 
  7. Details of periods spent in any other country in the last 10 years
  8. Details of any medical treatment in the UK (including visits to the doctor)
  9. NI Number (if applicable)
  10. Driving licence number (if applicable)


How long will it take to process the application?

You should get a decision within 8 weeks, but as with all visa applications, you should not to make any plans to leave the UK until a decision has been made and you have received your BRP/Digital status.

How long is this visa granted for?

If the application is successful, undergraduate and postgraduate students will be given 2 years.

PhD graduates will be given 3 years.

The period of leave should be granted from the date of the decision.

Can I apply for an extension or for another GV?

No.  This is a once in a lifetime visa. 

Graduates will only be eligible for one GV visa.    Once a student has been given a GV they cannot apply for an extension or apply for another one even if they do more eligible study.

If you are granted a GV but are subsequently unable to work or you decide to leave the UK for any period you will not able be able to request an extension. 

What type of work will I be able to do? 

Most types of employment, self-employment and voluntary work are allowed.  Working as a professional sportsperson is prohibited.

Full-time or part-time work and does not need to be linked to your degree and  there is no minimum wage requirement.

The GV is an unsponsored route – i.e. you don’t need to have an employer to sponsor you.  You do not need a new CAS or a COS to apply.

Although the Home Office has stated that work at any skill level will be allowed they have also implied that this route could be closed if evidence suggests that it is being used to obtain jobs it regards as 'low skilled', which is what happened with Tier 1 (Post-study Work).  For an idea of the type of jobs the Home Office thinks of as 'skilled', see Appendix Skilled Occupations of the Immigration Rules, which sets out job titles, descriptions and wages required for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker route.

Can I work full-time whilst my application is being decided?

If you are a Student/Tier 4 visa holder you will initially be able to work in the UK full-time once you have completed your studies, your completion date is defined as the completion date of your course stated on your CAS statement. You will be able to work for a maximum of 4 months after the completion date of your course or up until the expiry of your visa, whichever is soonest.

You will still be under the same Tier 4/Student restrictions on the type of work you can undertake during this period e.g. not being able to fill a full-time permanent vacancy.

Can I stay in the UK after my GV ends?

You will be able to apply to switch from this route into skilled work if you find a job that meets the requirements of the Skilled Worker route.

As previously mentioned you cannot apply to extend this visa or apply for a new GV if you undertake further study.

The GV does not count towards permanent residency requirements (settlement) for ILTR applications.

Can I study on the GV?

This visa is given to enable you to work in the UK.   The ability to study will be limited.  You should be permitted to undertake 'supplementary' study.

If the study is with an education provider who is also a student route sponsor and the study you want to do meets the approved qualification and level of study requirements of the Student route then you will not be allowed to study with a GV – in those instances, you would need to apply for a Student visa.

Will I be able to switch back to the Student Route from the UK at the end of my GV visa?

GV visa holders may switch to a Student Visa from the UK as long as there are no more than 28 days between your GV expiry date and your new course start date. Certain visa holders cannot switch onto a Student visa from the UK. 

Will other visa routes be affected?

The Home Office has closed the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) now the Graduate route has opened.  

GV visa holder may switch to the Start-up route in the UK. However, if you intend to start a business and want to be endorsed by the University of Hertfordshire, you should apply for the Start-Up route after graduation instead of GV, if you meet the criteria.

*** REMINDER ***

The information on this page should not be relied on to establish eligibility.  

You are always advised to check Home Office guidance prior to making any application as the rules are subject to change.  Please refer to the Home Office guidance: Appendix Graduate in the Immigration Rules and the Graduate Caseworker Guidance

 The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) also has information on their website which you may find useful.  For a short time, students can access their webinar recording on eligibility, how to apply and what the Graduate Route allows applicants to do.


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