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The UK Graduate Visa

03 October 2023
The UK Graduate Visa

If you have graduated in the UK with a bachelor’s degree or above, you may wish to consider applying for a Graduate visa.

The visa once granted would allow you to live and work, including self-employed, in the UK for two or three years. Your partner and dependant child may also apply to join you.

Does this route lead to settlement?

No, this route itself does not lead to settlement and cannot be extended. If an individual is looking to settle in the UK, they would need to switch to another immigration route before the expiry of the Graduate visa i.e. Skilled Worker.

On the other hand, if they had been living in the UK legally (not as a visitor or under temporary permission) in the UK for a long period of time before the Graduate visa, they may be eligible to settle in the UK under 10-year long residence route. The time they spend on a Graduate visa would count towards their 10-year continuous residency.

What are the requirements for a Graduate visa?

The main requirements are:

  1. You must currently hold a Student or Tier 4 (General) Student visa.
  2. You must apply before the expiry of your current visa.
  3. You must apply in the UK.

That means if you left the UK after you graduated, you cannot apply for a Graduate visa to re-enter the UK. You must be in the UK before the expiry of your current Student visa to be eligible to switch to a Graduate visa.

You must have successfully completed your course. Your education provider (university or college) should have notified the Home Office about this and confirmed that your degree will be awarded.

You do not need to wait until after your graduation ceremony, but you should confirm with your education provider that notification had been made to the Home Office before making application.

Your degree must be bachelor or above. Some professional courses also qualify:

(a) a law conversion course validated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in England and Wales; or

(b) the Legal Practice Course in England and Wales, the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland; or

(c) the Bar Practice Course in England and Wales, or the Bar Course in Northern Ireland; or

(d) a foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry; or

(e) a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE); or

(f) 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.

Can my Partner and dependant child join me?

Your partner and dependant child must have been holding a dependant visa when you were a Student, i.e. as a dependant of a Student. If they did not join you in the UK while you were studying, they cannot join you as your dependant when you apply to switch to a Graduate visa. They must also be in the UK to make their application.

The only exception is that if your child was born in the UK while you were a Student, they may apply as your dependant child for the first time. A full UK birth certificate would be required.

Fees and application

The application fee is approximately £715 for each applicant. The immigration healthcare surcharge would apply, which is £624 per person per year. So, for a two-year visa, the total fee would be £1,963 per person; for a three-year visa, £2,587 per person.

The length of visa granted will be 2 years; or 3 years for a PHD or other doctoral qualification holders.

How long will it take to get a decision?

The application processing time is approximately 8 weeks for standard service. You may stay in the UK under the same conditions as your original Student visa while the application is being considered. You must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until you get a decision, or otherwise your application will be withdrawn.

For information about switching to a graduate visa, please contact our immigration team  on 0207 903 6888 or contact@davenportsolicitors.com.

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