The Graduate Route is a new visa route for students in the UK who want to work, or look for work following the successful completion of their degree at Undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.

The University of Westminster is a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.

What we know about the Graduate route so far

The Graduate route is an unsponsored route. This means that the University is not required to sponsor you for your visa. Applicants will be granted a visa for 2 years (Undergraduate and Masters students) or 3 years (PhD students).

There is no maintenance requirement which means that you are not required to have a set amount of money in your bank account, like you did for your Student visa. Please read the section below: ‘Finding work in the UK’.

You will automatically satisfy the English language requirements as you will now hold a qualification taught in English.

Where and when can I apply for the Graduate route visa?

Applications will open at 9am on 1 July 2021. Full details of the application process are yet to be released. This webpage will outline the current information that is available.

You can only apply for the Graduate route from inside of the UK. There is no provision to apply from outside of the UK. If you are currently outside of the UK, you will need to travel to the UK before your visa expires to apply.

If you are a current student there may be a deadline by which you need to arrive in the UK, please read the section ‘Important information for current students’ to ensure that you arrive in the UK by any specified deadlines.

You must not travel outside of the Common Travel Area after you submit your Graduate route visa application as this will automatically withdraw your application.

How can I apply for the Graduate route?

You are required to apply online on the GOV.UK website using the ‘Graduate’ form. Please note this form will not be available until 1 July 2021 . The application will cost £700 and you will have to pay the Immigration Health surcharge (IHS) of £624 per year. The total IHS for the 2-year visa will be £1,248 and the 3-year visa for PhD students will be £1,872.

You will need to know the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number that you used for your Student visa application when you apply for the Graduate route. Your CAS would have been emailed to you before the start of your course at the University of Westminster.

Before you submit your visa application, the University will need to notify the Home Office that you have successfully completed your course. The Home Office is yet to clarify the process for this.

When should I apply for the Graduate route?

You must apply for the Graduate route once you have successfully completed your course and before your current Tier 4 or Student visa expires. If your visa will expire before the Graduate route is launched, you will not be eligible to apply for the route. For example, if you completed your course in January 2020 and your visa expires in May 2021, you will not be able to apply for the Graduate route. You can find information about the other work visa options available to you after you complete your course on the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.

If you are a current student and you have deferred modules, are repeating modules or re-sitting exams, please contact Student Advice to check your eligibility to apply for the Graduate route.

Eligibility requirements for the Graduate route visa

  • When you apply for the Graduate route you must have valid permission as a student. This means that you must hold a valid Tier 4 or Student visa. Please note that if you do not hold a Student or Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible for the Graduate route. If you have previously held permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme, you cannot apply for the Graduate route
  • You must have successfully completed your course when you apply for the Graduate Route visa. This means that you must have been awarded your qualification. Your date of award is the date that your results are published on your student profile. If you are unsure about your date of award, you should contact your Registry office for confirmation. Please note that you must have successfully completed your degree (Bachelors, Masters or PhD). If you graduate with a lower qualification, for example, a Postgraduate Diploma, you will not be able to apply for the Graduate Route. If you have studied one of the following courses, you are able to apply for the Graduate Route, as long as you meet the other requirements of the route:  the Legal Practice Course, the Graduate Diploma in Law and the Bar Practice Course. 
  • You must meet the ‘Study in the UK requirement’ which specifies the minimum period that you must have studied in the UK on your course with a valid student visa.
    If you are enrolled on a course that is for 12 months or less, you must have studied in the UK for the full duration of your course. If the total length of your course is longer than 12 months, you must have been studying in the UK for at least 12 months of your course.
    There are concessions and deadlines in place for students who have been distance learning outside of the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see the section, ‘Important information for current students’
  • If you have been sponsored for your fees and living costs, by a Government or International Scholarship Agency in the 12 months before you submit your application for the Graduate route, you must submit a letter of consent from your sponsor organisation to support your application

Working under the Graduate route

There is no restriction on the type of work you can do, except work as a professional sportsperson or coach. The work can be in any sector and at any level without minimum salary requirements. You can be employed or self-employed.

While your Graduate route application is pending, your Student visa work conditions apply. You cannot work on a self-employed basis until your Graduate route visa has been granted.

Conditions of the Graduate route visa

If you are issued with a Graduate route visa, your visa will be subject to the following conditions:

  • No access to public funds
  • Work, including self-employment and voluntary work, is permitted. You will not be able to work as a professional sportsperson
  • You cannot study a course which would usually require sponsorship under the Student route. Study is subject to the ATAS requirements
  • Certain nationals will be required to register with the Police. You can check if this applies to you on the Gov.uk site

Options after the Graduate route

You will be issued with one Graduate route visa this means that you cannot extend your visa under the Graduate route. You can switch to other work visa categories to continue working in the UK, for example the Skilled worker route.

You can also switch back to a Student visa, if you wish to study another course and if you meet the requirements of the Student route. However, when you complete your new course, you will not be able to apply for another Graduate route visa.

Important information for current students

Students are normally expected to have undertaken their studies in the UK for a specified period to be eligible to apply for the Graduate route. There are concessions in place for students who have had to start or continue with their course by distance learning from outside of the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

You are still required to have successfully completed your course before you submit your visa application and you must have valid permission as a Student when you apply for the Graduate route.

If you started your course in September 2020 and your course is for 12 months or less

If you started a course of 12 months or less in September 2020 and you have not travelled to the UK on your Student visa yet, you must arrive in the UK before 21 June 2021 to complete your course in the UK to be eligible to apply for the Graduate route.

If you have not applied for your Student visa yet, you must apply for your visa and arrive in the UK before 21 June 2021. Standard visa applications are normally decided within 3 weeks, however, we are aware that there are delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic so it is important you apply in advance to avoid missing the deadline.

Visit the Applying for a Student Visa from outside of the UK page for more information about making a Student visa application from outside of the UK.

If you started your course in January 2021 and your course is for 12 months or less

If you started your course in January 2021, your course is for 12 months or less and you have not come to the UK on your student visa before, you must arrive in the UK before 27 September 2021 and complete the remainder of your course in the UK to be eligible to apply for the Graduate route.

If you have not applied for your Student visa yet, you must apply for your visa and arrive in the UK before 27 September 2021. Standard visa applications are normally decided within 3 weeks, however, we are aware that there are delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic so it is important you apply in advance to avoid missing the deadline.

Visit the Applying for a Student Visa from outside of the UK page for more information about making a Student visa application from outside of the UK.

Courses of 12 months or less and you have previously entered the UK

If you started your course in September 2020 or January 2021 and you were issued with a Student visa for your course, and you have previously travelled to the UK on your Student visa, you must arrive in the UK before your course end date to apply for the Graduate route. You can find your course end date on your CAS.

You may be in this position if you arrived in the UK for the start of your course and then decided to leave to continue with online teaching from outside of the UK.

Courses of 12 months and a few days

If you course is slightly over 12 months, for example, your course is 12 months and 5 days in length. We understand that the Home Office is likely to treat your course as a 12-month course. We are in the process of seeking clarification about this.

Our advice at present is to that you treat your course as a course that is 12 months.

Courses longer than 12 months

If you are enrolled on a course that is longer than 12 months, for example an Undergraduate course, any period of distance learning spent inside or outside of the UK between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 will not affect your eligibility to apply for the Graduate route.

It is not clear what the deadline is for Undergraduate students to arrive in the UK. If you are due to complete your Undergraduate course in June 2021, it appears that you can arrive in the UK before the expiry of your visa.

If your course ends after June 2021, we suggest that you arrive in the UK before 27 September 2021 as this is when the COVID-19 concession ends. We are seeking clarification about the date by which students on a course longer than 12 months will need to arrive in the UK.

All students - factors to think about

  • Has your CAS expired?
  • Has your vignette expired?
  • When is the University’s deadline for me to enter the UK?
  • Where you are travelling from?
  • Do you need to follow any self-quarantine guidance when you arrive in the UK? Please visit the Preparing to come to the UK page

If you are unsure about when to arrive in the UK, please contact Student Advice for advice about your situation.

Dependants

Dependants include your partner and/or child under the age of 18. If your dependants are already in the UK with you as your Student dependants, they can apply to extend their stay under the Graduate route. They can only apply for their visa from inside of the UK.

If you are not permitted to have dependants with you under your Student visa, for example, you are studying an Undergraduate course, your dependants will be unable to apply to be your dependant under the Graduate route.

Finding work in the UK

It is important you think about how you are going to support yourself while you are on the Graduate route. You may not find a job immediately, so it is important you have access to enough funds to pay for your living costs while you are looking for work.

The University’s Careers and Employability service offer support and guidance to a student even after they have completed their course.

Useful sources of information