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The UK Graduate Route for International Students

There’s always something about Europe that will make every foreign student want to stay. Apart from the natural landscapes and stunning architecture, the multicultural atmosphere makes UK an attractive place to mix fun and learning.

United Kingdom used to be a very popular choice for many international students, but because of strict immigration policies and restricted pathways, applicants started choosing a country that offers a better immigration option. Fortunately, the government has started easing some of the existing policies and introduced the UK graduate route for international students. So if you’re planning to pursue United Kingdom but have been holding back due to the absence of post-study work opportunities, read along and know how the UK graduate route can help you make your dream come true.

What Is the UK Graduate Route?

UK graduate route for international students

The UK Graduate route is an option provided to international graduates who want to stay in the UK after completing their studies. It’s an unsponsored route, which means no job offer is required as long as you meet the requirements. The UK Graduate route also does not require applicants to show proof of funds and English language ability.

UK Graduate Route Eligibility

Last July 1, 2021, foreign students are given the chance to work in the country for 2 years under a Graduate visa once they have completed an undergraduate or master’s degree. Those taking up a Ph.D. are eligible to get a 3-year Graduate visa.

Previously, the 3-year PSW (Post-Study Work) permit is only provided to students who have finished a master’s degree. This means that the recent changes will allow more international students, particularly those taking up undergraduate courses, to spend more time in the UK to search for work and a potential sponsor for the skilled worker visa.

What Are the UK Undergraduate Degrees?

There’s a wide range of undergraduate courses offered in the UK. Here’s a list of qualifications together with some examples:

  • Bachelor’s degree e.g. Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc)

  • Shorter courses e.g. Foundation degree, Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), Higher National Diploma (HND)

  • Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE)

  • Shorter Undergraduate Courses: Level 4 or Certificate (C), Level 5 or Intermediate (I), Level 6 or Honours (H)

What Are the Fees Involved?

UK graduate route for international students

To take advantage of the UK graduate route for international students, you need to secure a separate visa after completing your course. A fee of £700 is required plus a yearly Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £624, a total of £1,324 during application. If your dependents are staying with you, the same amount is needed.

The IHS is a UK healthcare service and is considered very important especially with the ongoing pandemic. By availing of the Immigration Health Surcharge, you can use the National Health Service (NHS) same as a UK permanent resident.

When To Apply for the Graduate Route Visa?

To know if you’ve passed your course, you need to wait for the final results to be issued by your school. Normally, your college or university will provide a document that will serve as proof of course completion. When this is released, you may start your application for the Graduate Route visa without waiting for the certificate or your actual graduation ceremony.

Another important condition required by UK immigration is your presence in the country during your application. So if you’re planning to take a quick vacation to your home country or a common travel area (e.g. Ireland), be sure to process your Graduate Route visa ahead of time and wait for the results before leaving.

Applying for the UK Graduate Route Visa

Processing your Graduate Route visa is slightly different compared to your student permit. It's fully digital through GOV.UK and once approved, you’ll get an eVisa. Here are the steps:

  • Secure your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number from your current student visa. You should be able to see this in your CAS letter during school admission. If you don’t have this information, contact your school and retrieve your CAS number.

  • Create a UK Visas and Immigration account under GOV.UK.

  • Download the UK Immigration ID Check app for identity verification using your Biometric Residence Card or Permit.

  • Follow the process stated in GOV.UK.

UK Graduate Route Visa Processing Times

UK graduate route for international students

The processing times usually take around 8 weeks. If your current visa expires while waiting for the decision, you will be allowed to stay in the UK.

Applying digitally will give you access to your eVisa. You will have to use your UKVI credentials and sign in online under GOV.UK View and Prove service. Just prepare your details such as your passport or BRC/P info, date of birth, and mobile number or email address used to sign in.

Graduate Route Visa Conditions

The UK Graduate Route Visa is non-renewable. This means that you can only apply for it once and no application for extensions is allowed. However, you have the option to switch to the Skilled Worker Route once you find an eligible sponsor.

The Skilled Worker visa will allow you to live and work in the UK for 5 years. If you’re planning to settle in the country permanently, securing this type of visa contributes to the settlement rights. Unfortunately, the counting only starts upon the issuance of the Skilled Worker route, not from the time you got your Graduate visa.

I hope this article sums up all you need to know about the UK graduate route for international students. Feel the need for more info? Don’t hesitate to contact us and our Fil-Global agents will gladly answer your queries.

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