Information about the new Graduate Route
Route overview and basics
Important : If you are hoping to apply for the Graduate Route post study, it is your responsibility to ensure that you pass your course on time. If you have a suspension, resits or resubmissions you may not be able to meet the UKVI eligibility requirements. You should also note that the University cannot support applications for students who are carrying University debt or who have unresolved academic, or other, misconduct allegations.
The UK government launched a 2-year (or 3-year for PhD) Graduate visa on 1st July 2021.
To qualify for the visa, students must:
- Have successfully completed an eligible qualification
- Have received formal email notification from the University Compliance Team confirming that it has reported the course completion to the UKVI
- Have spent a minimum period of time studying in the UK using a Tier 4 or Student visa
- Be in the UK with a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time of application to the Graduate visa
- If in the last 12 months the student has received a scholarship or financial sponsorship from a Government or international scholarship agency covering tuition fees and living costs, consent must get be given by that sponsor for that student to remain in the UK under the Graduate visa.
- Must not have ever previously held either a Graduate Route or Doctoral Extension Scheme visa
With the exception of babies born in the UK, eligibility for dependants is restricted to those already in the UK as dependants of a Student. See ‘Dependants’ section below.
Note: You are still under the immigration regulations relating to your Student/Tier 4 visa until your have received a decision on a Graduate Route application. This means there are restrictions on the type of work your can do. Please carefully read the section at the bottom of this page called 'Working while waiting for a Graduate Route decision (or pre application)'
Basics of the Graduate visa application:
- Can only be made from within the UK
- Can only be made by someone who currently has a valid Tier 4 or Student Route visa and has had that visa for at least 12 months (for courses of 12 months of more) or for the whole of their course (for courses of 12 months or less), unless Covid-19 concessions on distance learning apply
- Can only be made after an eligible course has been successfully and formally completed, formal results produced and the University Compliance Team has reported the completion to the UKVI
- Must not have previously held a visa under either the Graduate visa or the Doctoral Extension Scheme
- The University Compliance Team will automatically send an email, including the individual CAS number needed for the Graduate visa application, to all eligible students once degree results have been reported to the UKVI
- You cannot apply to the Graduate visa until you get that email/number from the Compliance Team. If you do, your visa application may be refused. Reporting will take place after degree results are confirmed by the relevant award board
- The course completed must be the same one as the one on the student's initial course CAS unless exempt. Please see the section ‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies CAS’ below
- Will be made online using the UKVI IDV app or online and by attendance at a visa center
- Will cost £715 for the application (plus £715 each for any dependants)
- There is no additional maintenance requirement
- Consent from a Government or international scholarship body will be needed if the student has received financial support for tuition fees and living costs in the last 12 months.
- Will be subject to the Immigration Health Surcharge, which will be a total of £1,248 for graduates of a Bachelor or Masters degree and £1,872 for PhD and doctorate graduates. This must be paid at point of application and if applying with dependants, this charge also applies to all dependant applicants
- Bachelor and Masters graduates will automatically be granted a Graduate visa for 2 years
- PhD and Doctorate graduates will automatically be granted a Graduate visa for 3 years
- Only dependants who already have permission to be in the UK as the dependants on the main applicant's Tier 4 or Student Route visa may apply. You cannot switch the main applicant or add new dependants under the Graduate visa route
- Cannot be renewed or applied for again even after another period of study
- Does not count towards settlement
- Further study is restricted
- Permits switching into other work categories from within the UK
Valid Tier 4 or Student permission
You will need to be in the UK with valid Tier 4 or Student permission in order to apply for the Graduate visa.
You can also apply if you have held valid Tier 4 or Student permission but this expired and you have been granted a period of Exceptional Assurance provided you have not overstayed this period.
Successful completion requirement
You must have successfully completed the course of study which took place during your last grant of Tier 4 or Student Route permission. In the case of Student Sabbatical Officers, the course must have been completed during the last grant of leave prior to taking up the role of Sabbatical Officer.
The course completed must be the same course that was listed on your CAS used to obtain your current Tier 4 or Student permission. If you have changed course, it must have been a permitted change that didn’t require a new Student Route application.
If you changed course and are not sure if you are now eligible for the Graduate visa, please contact International.CampusLife@swansea.ac.uk for more advice.
Sponsor notification requirement
Swansea University must have informed the UKVI of your successful course completion before you apply for the Graduate visa.
The Compliance Team will automatically make a report to the UKVI confirming that you have successfully completed your course and then send you an email to confirm this has taken place.
It is important that you wait until you have received the notification email from the Compliance Team confirming that they have completed the reporting process before applying for the visa.
Making an application before receiving notification from the Compliance team may result in your visa application being refused.
Eligible qualification requirement
The course students must have successfully completed would usually be:
- A UK Bachelor degree
- UK Masters degree
- UK PhD or Doctorate degree
The full degree award (Bachelor, Masters PhD) must be awarded in order to be eligible for the Graduate Route. Lower exit qualifications such as Diplomas and Certificates will not be eligible for Graduate Route.
You can also apply if you have successfully completed:
- A law conversion course approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
- A Legal Practice Course
- A Bar Practice Course
- Foundation Programme in Medicine or Dentistry
- A Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE and NOT a general PGCert in any other subject)
- A course that makes you eligible for a job that is regulated by UK law or public authority
Previous time spent on the Graduate Route visa
The Graduate Route visa is a one-time only visa. This means you can only ever apply for and be granted the Graduate visa once in your lifetime.
For example if you are granted a Graduate Route visa following the successful completion a Bachelor degree level course, but at some later date you also complete a Masters and/or PhD course, you won't be able to re-apply for the Graduate Route after completing those later postgraduate courses.
The same limit would apply if you had ever held immigration permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES).
Study in the UK requirement
Please see the section below.
UK study requirement
The Graduate Route includes a requirement for students to have studied in the UK for a certain amount of time. This time is: at least 12 months or the full length of your course, whichever is shorter. Students who start their course in Autumn 2022 or later will need to meet this requirement.
NB: This 12 month UK requirement does not count for dependents- who can wait at home and join you during the last month or two of your course and still apply for Graduate Route as your dependants (see Dependants section below).
However, due to the COVID pandemic, and students having been permitted to undertake periods of study from overseas, there are currently a series of concessions around this. These concessions state that rather than being in the UK for a certain amount of time, student must arrive in the UK by a certain date/have a student visa to be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route. Once they have arrived in the UK, students then need to stay in the UK to complete their course. These concessions are outlined in the UKVI COVID-19 Guidance for Student Sponsors.
These concessions are covered on paragraphs 3.23- 3.27 and are reproduced/explained below for you:
3.23 Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or Spring 2021 via distance learning, and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course will be able to make a Graduate application if they make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK either before their visa ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner.
3.24 Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 who have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and who have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to make a Graduate application as long as they are present in the UK before the end date of their permission.
3.25 Students who commence a course of 12 months or less in Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022 via distance learning from overseas must enter the UK no later than 30 June 2022 and complete that course of study in the UK with permission as a Student to be eligible for the Graduate Route. Students should travel once they are able to do so.
3.26 Students who would normally only be sponsored to study in the UK on the Student route for the last year of a longer course, such as those on articulated degree programmes, will be considered as being on a course of 12 months or less for the purpose of this requirement.
3.27 Students sponsored for a course lasting longer than 12 months will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate route as a result of any distance learning that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and and 27 September 2021 or any distance learning which took place overseas between 27 September 2021 and 30 June 2022. If a Student’s current permission expires prior to 30 June 2022, they must enter the UK prior to the expiry of their Student permission rather than 30 June 2022.
If you have not yet applied for your visa and need information about what the end date granted is likely to be, see the ‘Visa Lengths’ section in the Student Route information here.
Application Timing, Process and Costs
Timings and format of applications
The Graduate Route application will be made online and has been promised to be quick and easy! The UKVI intend you to be able to verify your identify and make the application using an app downloaded to your phone.
You should not usually need to submit any documents (unless you were a sponsored student- see the Consent to Remain section below) but you will need a CAS number to include in your application.
Timings and application
You will not be able to make a Graduate Route application until formal results have been released and verified to the Home Office. This process will happen automatically at the earliest point possible according to UKVI Sponsor requirements.
Once this process has taken place, all students who are eligible to apply for Graduate Route will be sent an email notifying them that they are now eligible to apply for the Graduate Route. This email will also including the individual CAS number they will need to include in their application.
IMPORTANT: Students will not need to request this email/CAS number or tell the University they wish to apply for the Graduate Route. All eligible students will be sent the information and then it is a personal choice whether you wish to apply or not. You cannot make the process go any quicker and you should expect to receive the Graduate Route application confirmation email within 2-3 weeks of your results. All students within an examination cohort will receive the information at the same time via a bulk communication. You do not have to make your Graduate Route application straightaway but you will have to make the application before your student visa expires.
All applications are made online and information on the process, as well as the link to start the application process can be found on the Gov.UK website here.
There is also a very informative and useful Home Office Graduate Route information sheet
The process will be slightly different depending on whether or not you have a valid biometric passport or biometric residence card (BRP).
Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland who hold a biometric passport and non-EU citizens holding a valid BRP will complete an online application form and will then be invited to verify their ID document and submit supporting documents via the UK Immigration: ID Check App. You will need a UKVI account or to create a new one. You won’t have to attend any visa centre appointments, everything will be done online via the ID Check App.
Students who cannot use the App, either because they don’t have the correct biometric document (e.g. the BRP has been lost, the biometric chip is damaged or who cannot download the App to their device) will be able to complete the on-line application form and then attend a visa application center to submit documents and provide biometric information (digital photo and signature, fingerprints).
Applicants will not need to evidence up front living costs but they will need to pay for both the Immigration Health Surcharge and the visa fee at point of application. These costs will be made in 2 payments, first for the IHS and then the visa fee. You will need a valid debit or credit card and you may need to contact your bank to check any payment limits or your card and to let them know you will be making these payments (or they could be refused).
Fees are outlined in the table below:
Graduate visa application
Dependant visa application
£715 per dependant
Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) Bachelor/Masters graduate
£1,248 per applicant
Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) PhD graduate
£1,872 per applicant
Attendance at visa applicant centre (if required)
Up to £150 approximately + £19.20 biometric enrolment fee
If you are a non PhD student making an application, you will need a total of £1,948 available to you at point of application, plus the same for each of your dependants.
If you are a PhD student will need a total of £2,572, plus the same for each of your dependants.
Once you have submitted your Graduate visa application, you and any dependants should not travel outside the UK while the visa application is being decided. Doing so will automatically withdraw your application.
Students who are granted their Graduate visa after having applied using the ID Check App will receive an email with a PDF of their decision letter and a digital status which can be accessed via the UKVI portal ‘View and prove your immigration status’.
Visa nationals will also receive a new biometric residence permit (BRP).
Only dependants who are already in the UK with valid permission as your Tier 4 / Student Route dependant can apply for Graduate Route with you.
However, they do not have to have been in the UK for the duration of your course. They can stay at home and apply to join you (as a dependant on your Tier 4/Student Route visa) in the last month or so of your course. (e.g. perhaps July/August 2023 for courses that end in September 2023).
When your dependants apply to come to the UK depends on your personal, financial and practical situation and you should pay particular attention to the information about finances, accommodation and responsibilities listed on our Families and UK Living Costs pages.
Why would I want to bring my family towards the end of my studies instead of the beginning?
There are several reasons why you may want to do this:
• UKVI financial requirements for a Student visa and their dependants are very high. Living costs are worked out on the length of the visa (up to a maximum of 9 months)- so applying towards the end of your course means you and your dependants will need less upfront living costs as part of your initial visa applications
• Immigration Health Surcharge costs are set by UKVI in 6 month ‘bundles’. If you apply for your dependants visas in the last 2 months of your course, they will only need 1 bundle of 6 months Immigration Health Surcharge in their initial dependant applications (£235 each- instead of £705 each for a standard 1 year Masters course)
• Accommodation and cost of living for families is very high in the UK, you may want to save this additional expense until both parents can legally be working full time in the UK to help cover these costs
• You may want to live close to family and friends, who are not in the Swansea area to help with accommodation or childcare costs (the University does not hold any responsibilities relating to these). While you are studying, you and your family are restricted to livng a maximum of 50 miles from the Campus. Under the Graduate Route, you can live and work where you like.
• Family accommodation is very scarce in Swansea and can be very expensive, your family coming later allows more time to look for suitable/affordable accommodation in the Swansea area or, after your course is finished, to look elsewhere in the UK if you so wish!
• Single person accommodation is plentiful and reasonable in Swansea and so this could save both money and stress!
• Coming as a student and bringing your family later allows you to truly focus on your studies, to get great grades and to complete within time
Of course, it will be a personal choice on what you decide to do in relation to bringing your dependants. However, we just wanted to ensure that you were fully informed about your options in relation to Graduate Route and the timings of this.
The only exception to the need for a dependant to already have a Student Route Dependant visa in order to switch to Gradaute Route dependant is for babies born in the UK during your last grant of Tier 4 / Student Route permission.
How will my dependants apply under the Graduate Route
How your dependants will apply will depend on whether they have their own BRPs. If your dependant does have a BRP of their own, they will be able to make their own individual applications using the ID Check App. Please use the UKVI Graduate Route parner and children application links.
Unfortunately it isn't possible to add the dependant applications if you used the ID Check App to submit your Graduate Route visa application.
If you didn't use the ID Check App yourself but will attend an appointment at a visa centre instead, your application form will allow you to add your dependants to your own application form and you would then book and attend an appointment at the visa centre together as a family at the same time.
Family relationships should be subsisting and you should intend to live together in the UK throughout time spent the Graduate visa holder is living in the UK.
There are some additional requirements for child dependants who are aged 16 and above at the time of application. Please contact International@CampusLife for more information if any of your child dependants are 16 years or over.
A child born in UK during your last grant of Tier 4 / Student and who does not have their own student dependant visa can apply but you will need to submit the child’s full UK birth certificate with the Graduate visa application.
Changes to your study (inc. extensions, resits and repeats)
You must have been awarded the qualification for the course listed on the Tier 4 / Student Route CAS unless you made a permitted course change that did not require you to re-apply for new permission.
A permitted change of course includes:
- undertaking a different course at degree level or above, where the University confirmed to the UKVI at the time of change that the previous and new courses are related or support the student’s career aspirations
- adding or removing a work placement to the course
- adding or removing a study abroad programme
- leaving an integrated PhD or master’s programme with the lower-level qualification e.g. leaving an integrated master’s programme with a bachelor’s qualification
- intercalating students on medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine and science courses
- completing a course where the University changed the title of your course title or the course contents after issuing the CAS, but without the need to make a new visa application
If you changed your course at any time and you are unsure how this might affect your eligibility to apply for the Graduate visa, please contact International.CampusLife@swansea.ac.uk
It is also important to note that if you have an extension to a module, resits or repeats, this may affect your ability to apply for the Graduate Route. In order to apply, you need to have completed your course and received your formal results before your Student visa expires. Always ask your College about when your results will available if you have, or are thinking about, a change to your course end date. Do not assume that you can get an extension to your Student visa in order to 'wait' for results in the UK.
Consent to remain in the UK
If in the last 12 months you have received a scholarship or financial sponsorship from a Government or an international scholarship agency covering tuition fees and living costs for your study in the UK you will need to get your sponsors written consent giving you permission to stay on in the UK. You will need to submit this to the UKVI as part of your Graduate visa application.
Conditions of the Graduate Visa
While your application for a Graduate visa is awaiting approval by UKVI your rights to live and work in the UK continue as per your Tier 4 / Student Route conditions. Please see our website on working during your studies for guidance on what work is and is not permitted.
Once the visa application is granted, as a Graduate visa holder you can take any job with any employer, paid or unpaid. You may also take self-employment and engage in business activities.
The only work that is not permitted is work as a professional sports person or coach. The UKVI defines what it means by a professional sportsperson or coach on its webpages.
Please note: Students interested in setting up their own business in the UK may want to consider the Start-up visa as an alternative to the Graduate visa. It is not possible to switch later from the Graduate visa into the Start-up visa.
Study is restricted under the Graduate visa. You cannot study a course for which in theory a Student Route visa could be obtained.
Study that is permitted include: evening classes or recreational courses, study at a college/provider that doesn’t hold a Student sponsor license, some professional courses. Please check with the course provider.
If the course required ATAS clearance you would need to obtain this before commencing study.
Working while waiting for a Graduate Route decision (or pre application)
As long as you have completed your course (this would be either the end date of the course as stated on your orignal CAS OR a later end date if you have had a course extension/resit- whichever is the later) you are able to work full time whilst waiting to apply for the Graduate Route or while waiting for a decision. However, until you have formal notification from UKVI stating your Graduate visa has been granted, you are still bound under the working regulations of your previous Student or Tier 4 visa.
Under the Student/Tier 4 visa regulations, there are certain types of work that you cannot do. These include:
- self-employment and business activity
- professional sportsperson including as a sports coach, though there is an exception from 1 October 2019 for students at higher education providers doing work placements on a degree-level course
- entertainer, which includes actors, musicians, dancers and other performers, though there is an exception for students doing work placements on degree-level dance, drama and music courses
- permanent full-time job
You should not be undertaking any of this type of work until your Graduate Route visa is granted and you would not be able to pass a formal Right to Work check from an employer.
We have been seeing students signing ongoing contracts of future employment on the basis that they are going to apply for the Graduate Route- this should not be happening. You should not sign (nor should an employer be giving you) a contract of employment based on a potential and future visa status and this is putting both you and them at risk.
You need to make it clear to your employer that you cannot start a permanent job (or sign a contract to that effect) until after you have your Graduate Route visa in hand. To do so means you are in breach of your immigration status and they are at risk of breaking employment law.