Graduate Route opened 1 July 2021

Tier 4/Student visa holders who have successfully completed their degree (undergraduate, masters, DPhil, PGCE, law conversion course and foundation programme in Medicine), to live and work in the UK (except from as a professional sportsperson or sports coach).

Those awarded a DPhil will be granted 3 years, all other applicants receive a 2 year visa duration.

Applicant must have:

  • completed their course and have been or will be awarded the qualification, and in addition the University has reported the successful completion of their course to the Home Office

  • studied in the UK for a relevant period

  • obtained consent to submit the visa application from any Government or international scholarship if they have had their tuition fees and living costs funded in the last 12 months

 Individuals who hold a Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme visa are not eligible to apply for the Graduate route.

Graduate route vs Skilled Worker Sponsorship


Fully online application for passport evidence and reusing biometrics.

No maintenance/English Language requirement.

Greater flexibility: employment/self-employment except as a professional sportsperson or coach.

Visa duration may be longer than the contract of employment being offered by the department/faculty/college. Allows the individual to remain in the UK and seek employment beyond their employment with the University.

A Graduate route cannot be extended, but permitted to switch into most other work routes or back to a student visa.

No ATAS requirement.


Cannot add new dependents (except baby born in the UK during student visa) this may be tricky when the student was not eligible to have a dependent with them in the first place, partner has remained overseas working, or in the UK on a different immigration status.

Does not count towards 5 year residence for Indefinite Leave to Remain, it will count towards a 10 year long residency application.

Applications can only be made within the UK.

Individuals who have been studying outside of the UK for an extended period may affect their eligibility. University student team to offer support as some exceptions due to Covid.

Not permitted to undertake study that could be sponsored  under the student route.

Immigration Health Surcharge must be paid for the full 3 or 2 year duration.



Cost Comparison to Skilled Worker

  Skilled Worker Graduate route
Application Fee £704 £700
NHS Surcharge £624 per year, based on length of Sponsorship

DPhil £1,872 (3 years)

All other studies £1,248 (2 years)


DPhil Student 'near to completion' of their studies

Tier 4/Student visa holders often switch into a Skilled Worker visa who will be holding a postdoctoral researcher position. If the job description details the qualification requirement as ‘PhD, or near to completion’ we can proceed with Skilled Worker once the thesis is submitted.

Students who have submitted their thesis but not completed or been awarded their DPhil will not yet be eligible for the Graduate route.

A decision will therefore need to be made between:

  • The Graduate route visa. Individuals waiting to complete their course and be eligible for the graduate route visa will be able to undertake some work in line with the conditions of their Tier 4/ student visa OR
  • A Skilled Worker application.

Useful information for students


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