The Graduate route is a new work route for those who have a degree or other relevant qualification from an approved UK Higher Education provider. Your application does not need sponsorship or any endorsement by an employer or by your university. It is similar to the old Tier 1 Post-Study Work route that ended in 2012.
Applications will open at 0900 on Thursday 1 July 2021. The key requirement is that when you apply you have a UK degree or other relevant qualification that you received during your current period of Tier 4 or Student permission. See below for full details.
Most successful applicants can stay for two years under the Graduate route. PhD graduates can stay for three years.
The following detailed information on the Graduate route is based on information published by the Home Office on 4 March 2021:
We expect further guidance for caseworkers assessing applications, but this is likely to be published only shortly before the route starts in July. We will keep this page updated with any further announcements.
As expected, the Graduate route is only open to those who have successfully completed their course and who have valid Student or Tier 4 permission when they apply on or after 1 July 2021. In their fact sheet about the route, the Home Office says that other students will not be eligible and that
[Most ineligible] students will have had no expectation of benefitting from such a route when they applied to study in the UK. They will also be able to apply to a number of other routes, for example Skilled Worker, Start Up, Innovator or Global Talent, among others.
This page has detailed information about the Skilled Worker route, the Start Up and Innovator routes and about Other Options.
On 25 March 2021 we ran a student webinar on the Graduate route. You can stream the webinar here, but please note these important updates on return deadlines, which were announced after we recorded the webinar.
- 11 June 2021: The deadline for entering the UK for the first time for a 2020 start course of 12 months or less is now extended. The deadline is now 27 September, or the end date of your Student visa, whichever is sooner. See the updated information below on Study in the UK, including COVID-19 concessions.
- 24 May 2021: The deadline for returning to the UK after distance learning at home on a course of 12 months or less has been extended. In the webinar at 37'49" and 38'48" we say you must return by the end date of your course: this has now been extended to the end date of your Student permission (visa). See the updated information below on Study in the UK, including COVID-19 concessions.
To clarify what we say at 50'55" about the problem switching from the Graduate route into the Start-up route, the issue is that part of the eligibility for the Start-up route is that you have not previously started a business in the UK. This means that someone who starts a business under the Graduate route cannot switch into Start-up. For further details, and for a possible workaround, see our detailed guide to the Start-up route on this page.