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In July 2021 the UK Government launched the new Graduate visa, relevant to those studying a degree whilst on a Student Visa or a Tier 4 visa.

This visa will allow University of Chester Bachelor’s and Master’s degree graduates to remain in the UK and work for up to two years after completing their studies. PhD students can stay for up to three years. The application fee is £700

A good starting point for those wishing to learn more about the Graduate route is the guidance document on here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-graduate-route-information-for-international-students

Who is eligible?

  • Students who have a valid Student visa, Tier 4 visa, or Exceptional Assurance at the point their results go to an awards board, i.e. the date they are officially awarded their degree. The University must have notified the UKVI that you have successfully completed your course.
  • Students who have successfully completed their full degree. Certificates, diplomas and other non-degree qualifications may not qualify
  • Those who have never had a graduate route visa before.

To be eligible for the Graduate visa, your student visa must still be valid at the date your degree is awarded. Awards boards only take place a few times per year, and happen usually around two months after your final submission/assessment/exam. If your course end date is delayed due to a deferral, a re-submission, or a resit exam, you may not go to an awards board until after your student visa expires, and so would not be eligible for the graduate visa. Please note, it is not possible to extend your student visa for the purposes of waiting for results, or due to deferrals or re-submissions. The only way to ensure eligibility for the Graduate route is to successfully complete your studies on time.

An eligible students must also have studied in the UK for a minimum period of the course for which they received their current student visa, as detailed in this table;

Total length of course

Relevant period of Student visa granted during which all study took place in the UK (apart from permitted study abroad programmes)

12 months or less

Full duration of course

Longer than 12 months

At least 12 months

There are some concessions to this rule, if you studied abroad for a time due to the COVID-19 pandemic;

  • Students who began a course of 12 months or less in Autumn 2020 or Spring 2021, and who have not yet entered the UK to study that course will be able to make a Graduate application if they arrive in the UK either before their visa ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner
  • 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 30th June 2022.

When can I apply?

You can submit your Graduate visa application to the UKVI after the University of Chester has confirmed your eligibility to the UKVI. This can only happen after your degree award is confirmed at an awards board. Within 3 days of the awards board, we check who has received their award and who has an eligible visa that is still valid, and then we confirm their eligibility to the UKVI. Then, we email the student to confirm that they are now able to apply to the Graduate route. The email will come from studyvisa@chester.ac.uk to your University of Chester email account.

The deadline for submitting a graduate visa application is midnight on the last day of your student visa.

Do I need to be in the UK to apply?

Yes, applications must be submitted from inside the UK.

What can I do with the graduate visa?

The graduate visa is valid for any kind of work, including self-employed work. The only exception seems to be work as a professional sportsperson or coach, which is not permitted.

The graduate visa is not valid for the sort of study that you can do on a student visa. However it is valid for non-degree level study such as evening courses or vocational courses.
 

Further information on the graduate route can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/graduate-visa

Please note that due a UK government rule (sponsor guidance document 2 paragraph 7.9) means that University of Chester staff are unable to advise students on their graduate visa applications.