The UK (United Kingdom) is a combination of Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England. The UK is known for a lot of things and as you may have guessed high-quality education is one of them.
The number of top universities in the world is numerous but the UK is known to be the home of most of them. It’s no wonder, international students all over the world try their best yearly to get admitted into their universities in order to receive quality education with the hopes of being able to work afterwards. According to the UK’s government data, in 2019-2020, the UK had a total of 538,615 international students studying in the UK: from that figure, 395,630 were non-EU while 142,985 were from the EU (European Union).
From the figures above it’s safe for one to deduce that more than half a million international students get to study in the UK yearly, which is great. However, asides from studying in the UK, international students who wish to pursue work opportunities in the UK after completing their studies often get the short end of the stick. That’s because the former UK Prime Minister Theresa May reduced the work visa duration to four-month only.
If you are an international student hoping to work in the UK, knowing that you’ll only get to work for four months, naturally wouldn’t sit right with you and you’d try to seek an alternative. Lucky for you, there’s a way. There UK government recently introduced a new option for international students who are looking forward to working in the UK after completing their studies which is the Graduate Route.
If you are reading this, chances are you already know about the graduate route but you don’t know the requirements or the next steps to take. That’s why in this guide, I’ll be teaching you how to apply for the UK graduate route visa in 2022.
What is the Graduate route?
The Graduate route (also known as post-study work visa) was launched by the UK Government for international students on the 1st of July 2021. The Graduate route lets eligible international students stay in the UK to work or look for work without being sponsored by a company. With the graduate route, undergraduate and postgraduate students can look for work or work after their studies for a period of two years while doctoral students get to stay for three years.
Also, international students who use the Graduate route to stay and work in the UK do not need a pre-existing job offer to apply which gives them the flexibility to work and also switch jobs according to skill or level of salary. The great part is, if you don’t fancy working for anyone, you can also choose to be self-employed during that two-year duration.
Graduate route: Eligibility and requirements
Just like any other program or route, the Graduate route also has its requirements and those requirements will determine whether or not you are eligible to apply for the UK Graduate’s route.
To apply for the Graduate route, you must first be in the UK and have valid permission as a Tier 4 visa holder or student. Sadly, people who have student permission based on the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) are not eligible for the Graduate route.
Asides from holding a valid student will Tier 4 visa, you must have successfully completed a degree-level course. You’ll also have to show your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number which must have been issued to you by your university. Your CAS number contains letters and numbers—it begins with E4G and is 14 characters long.
The qualification named in your CAS must be the same as the one on your recently completed and would be applying for the Graduate route number.
However, if you have misplaced or do not know your CAS number, you should be able to find it in your emails or saved application form. If you can’t find it anywhere then you can contact your university to recover it.
Typical examples of degree-level courses include:
- Undergraduate degree
- Masters degree
- PhD or similar doctorate qualification
- Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PCGE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)
- The Legal Practice Course
Note: the term “successful completion” means that you have been awarded your qualification and it has also been confirmed at the academic board.
How long must I stay in the UK before I’ll be eligible to apply?
Before you go ahead to apply for the Graduate route, you must have studied your course in the UK for at least 12 months. However, this doesn’t apply to those who have been studying remotely in their home countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you fall into the latter category of students then you must meet one of the following requirements to be eligible.
Course longer than 12 months
In this category, the time spent outside of the UK i.e., between the 24th of January 2020 and the 27th of September 2021 will not be counted against you and there will be no set requirement for you to return to the UK. However, you must make sure that you return to the UK before your Student visa expires. There are cases where the course dates more than the 12 months period but if that course is considered to be a 1 year then you should consider it to be a 12-month long course and meet the next criteria instead.
Course started in 2020 or 2021 (the course is 12 months or less)
If you fall into this category then you must enter the UK using a student visa before the 27th of September 2021.
Course starts in September 2021 or January 2022
For this category of students, you must enter the UK via a Student before the 6th of April 2022.
How much does the application cost?
Your visa application will cost you a total of £700. Additionally, you’ll also have to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 for each visa year. It’s a huge fee no doubt but it’ll give you full access to UK’s National Health Service. In total, for Bachelors and Masters students (2 years), it’ll total £1,248 and £1,872 for PhD students (3 years).
Will I be able to include my dependents (family members) in my application?
Yes, you can. But it’s only possible when your dependents are in the UK and also have a student or Tier 4 visa. However, your eligibility dependents will also have to the above fees (the Immigration Health Surcharge and processing fee).
What do I need to apply for UK’s Graduate route visa?
You’ll need to have your most recent Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number, passport, and BRP (Biometric Residence Permit).
How to apply for UK’s Graduate route visa 2022
There are two routes to follow if you want to apply for a UK Graduate route visa. You can choose to apply in person or online.
If you decide to follow the online route, you’ll have to visit GOV.UK website. There, you’ll find instructions you’ll have to follow in order to create a UK Visa and Immigration account. You’ll also have to use a mobile app to verify your identity.
Keep your current visa Permit (for example, your BRP) close by because you’ll need it. Your current visa Permit is the card you received when you first entered the UK for your studies. After applying, if your application is successful, you’ll be given or issued a new eVisa or new Biometric Residence Card depending—it depends on your country of origin.
If you can’t apply online, then you can visit any UK Visas and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre to apply in person. Don’t know the centres closest to you? You can search the nearest UKVCAS centre to you here.
How long will it take my Graduate route application to be approved?
The advertised time frame it’ll take for your application to be approved from the time you applied is 8 weeks.
Kindly note that after submitting your application, you cannot travel overseas until you have been notified of their decision.
Once my visa has been granted what next?
After your visa have been granted, you can do any work of your choosing and that includes being employed or self-employed. However, you are not permitted to work as a professional coach or sportsperson.
For additional information, you can contact your university or have a look at this UK Graduate route guide.