How to apply for the UK Graduate Route visa – 2022 update

how to apply for the graduate route visa
how to apply for the graduate route visa - 2022 update

This article was written by the Great British Mag editorial team on 9 March 2022

The UK Graduate Route visa allows international students to stay in the UK for a minimum of two years after they graduate. Keep reading to find out more about this visa and how to apply.

What is the Graduate route?

The Graduate route visa is open to all international students that have successfully completed an undergraduate, postgraduate or doctorate since 2021. And it allows international students to remain in the UK for two years if they have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate, and three years if you’ve completed a doctorate.

What does the Graduate route allow me to do?

If you are a successful applicant on this route, you will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level, for a maximum period of two years if you have successfully completed an undergraduate or master’s degree. If you are a PhD graduate, you’ll get three years.

If you aspire to forge a career as an academic or scientist in the UK, there’s never been a better time to do so. The UK aims to increase research investment to 22 billion pounds a year by 2024-25. This is where its newly-minted Research and Development Roadmap comes in – attracting global talent will directly support it. According to the Higher Education Policy Institute, the UK government must recruit 25,000 PhD students to achieve its ambition of increasing R&D expenditure to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

Who can apply?

Everything in life comes with terms and conditions, so let’s break it down for you. If you successfully complete a degree at a UK university in 2021 or after, you’re good to go, so long as you’ve spent at least one year studying here.

To qualify, you must be present in the UK and have successfully completed a recognised course.

What are the requirements?

First, you’ll need a valid Student visa. Second, you need to be a current student with a UK uni. Third, you need to be in the UK to apply.

If your course has been longer than one year but you’ve been learning remotely in your home country for any amount of time between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 because of the pandemic, you’re still eligible. You just need to return to the UK before your student visa runs out to apply.

Similarly, if your course has been one year or less, so long as you were studying in the UK for any part of it, you too just need to be in the country before your student visa expires to apply for the Graduate Route visa.

You must also complete identity, criminality and security checks, as well as pay an application fee and an Immigration Health Surcharge payment. If your government sponsored your degree, you will need to obtain their permission before applying for a post-study work visa.

When can I apply?

To be eligible, students who began their studies in autumn 2020 or spring 2021 will need to be in the UK on a UK post-study work visa by 27 September 2021.

Students who are beginning their course in autumn 2021 or early 2022 will need to be in the UK on a UK study visa by 6 April 2022 at the latest.

How to apply for graduate route visa?

You apply online via the UK Gov website. As part of the application you will need to scan your biometric residence permit (BRP) with the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app.

If you have difficulties with the application process, contact your university. When you are ready to apply you will need to pay the immigration health surcharge and the application fee. 

The application fee is £700, whilst the immigration health surcharge is charged at £624 per year of leave granted.

Will I be guaranteed a job?

The Graduate route will not provide you with a job offer. However, if you have a master’s degree and a portfolio of previous work experience, this will increase your chances of landing an executive-level position, plus you can work at any level and in any sector during the period of your visa. There’s no deadline for finding work, either – you can be looking for as long as your visa is valid for.

What other visa can I apply for ?

If you land a graduate level job straight after university, first a high five, and secondly, that qualifies you for a Skilled Worker visa. And this is a visa you can apply for after the Graduate route visa expires.

How do I sell myself as an international student?

Hiring an international employee is beneficial to businesses with a global client base. Research from McKinsey found enterprises in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity had a 35% higher likelihood of achieving above-average financial returns in their industries. Sell yourself as an international student in your CV and the many advantages you can bring to an organisation, such as your language skills.

Are UK employers ready for the graduate visa?

The Confederation of British Industry — a non-profit that helps 190,000 businesses in the UK — thinks that this new Graduate route scheme will make it easier for companies to benefit from a more varied talent pool of skills, ideas and talents from graduates. 

However, research done by GB Mag shows not enough businesses are aware of the visa and still assume it is hard to employ an international student, so shout about the visa on your CV and covering letter. And at interviews, make a point of talking about how easy it is for the employer to hire you.

You may also want to read

Can EU students apply for residency in the UK

How should I choose which UK university to study at?

Can PHD students apply for residency in the UK