Graduate route

Last modified: 14 May 2024

If you have been studying in the UK and have a degree or other relevant qualification from an approved UK higher education provider, you can apply for the Graduate route which allows you to work after your studies. The Graduate route does not need sponsorship or any endorsement by an employer or by your institution. 

This route allows eligible graduates to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK. Undergraduate and postgraduate Masters graduates (or those with a relevant qualification) can stay for two years, PhD or doctoral qualification graduates can stay for three years. 

There are particular timings and processes you will need to follow to make your application go as smoothly as possible. We've gone into detail below. 

In March 2024 the Migration Advisory Committee was asked to conduct a review of the Graduate route . We are monitoring the situation and will update this page as we know more. 

How do I apply for the Graduate route?

Last modified: 13 May 2024

The Graduate route has important conditions relating to where and when you can apply so it is important to read our guidance carefully so that you understand how to apply appropriately. 

Where to apply

When to apply

How to apply

What are the requirements for the Graduate route?

Last modified: 14 May 2024

There are a number of requirements to consider before making your application. You can only hold permission under the Graduate route once, so make sure that you consider your options in full before committing to the route. 

Current immigration permission

Previous permission under Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) or Post Study Work 


Relevant qualification and successful completion 


Study in the UK requirement 


Money, fees, and knowledge of English 


Studies sponsored by a government or scholarship agency 


Your institution's responsibilities 

Conditions of the Graduate route

Last modified: 14 May 2024

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. 




Your Graduate route permission 

Can my family apply for the Graduate route?

Last modified: 14 May 2024

Yes, although only dependants that are already in the UK as a Student dependant can apply to become a Graduate dependant. If your dependants are outside the UK and you want them to apply for Graduate route permission alongside you, they must join you in the UK and hold immigration permission as your Student route dependant first.  

There is no deadline for dependants 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 joins you when you have less than six months remaining on your Student permission, 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 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. 

This means that if you are studying a part-time postgraduate course or an undergraduate course, you will be unable to bring dependants under the Graduate route as these course types do not permit 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 Skilled Worker, as soon as possible. 

When applying for the Graduate route, dependant partners must: 

  • Have, or have last been granted, permission as a dependant partner of a Student that is now applying for, or has been granted, permission on the Graduate route 

Your partner must also meet the requirements outlined in Appendix Relationship with Partner. 

Dependant children can also apply under the Graduate route. They must either: 

  • have been a dependant child under the Student route where the Student is now applying for, or has been granted, permission on the Graduate route; OR 
  • have been born in the UK during the last grant of Student permission of a Student that is now applying for, or has been granted, permission on the Graduate route 

Your child must also meet the Independent Life Requirement, Care Requirement, and Relationship Requirement as outlined in Appendix Children. There are circumstances in which both parents may not be applying for, or currently have, permission in the UK (for example, you are the sole surviving parent). These circumstances are outlined in Appendix Children and the related caseworker guidance, however we would recommend seeking support with any applications that fit these circumstances as they are more complex and require further documentation.  

There is no maintenance requirement for a Graduate route dependant. If someone who applies to switch from Student dependant to Graduate dependant, and they themselves had a government or agency scholarship for UK study, they must obtain the consent of the financial sponsor for their Graduate dependant application. 

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. 

How long will it take for my application to be processed?

Last modified: 14 May 2024

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 contains detailed information 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: 14 May 2024

What is it like to find employment in the UK after graduation? We spoke to international graduates from across the UK about their experiences of seeking employment in the UK after graduation. They shared their experiences of: 

  • Applying for the Graduate route 
  • 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?