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Stay in the UK after you graduate

Many options are available for international graduates looking to stay in the UK after graduation. Below, we detail the UK government's Graduate Route visa and the Skilled Worker route specifically.

However, we recommend you do your research on the GOV.UK website to work out which visa best suits your current situation. There are lots of other options available, including short-term and long-term visas, and visas for specific types of employment, such as for healthcare workers.

What is the Graduate Route?

The UK’s Graduate Route welcomes international students to apply to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, upon graduation. International students who have successfully completed an undergraduate or master’s degree can apply to stay in the UK for up to two years after their studies. PhD graduates can apply to stay for up to three years.

This is a fantastic opportunity for international students who want to take their next steps into employment in the UK.

What are the benefits of the Graduate Route?

The Graduate Route is unsponsored, meaning you can use the time after you graduate to work, or look for work, at any skill level. You will have the flexibility to gain work experience, undertake an internship or work as a freelancer in the UK.

There is no minimum salary requirement, and there is no limit on how many international students can have the opportunity to stay in the UK through the Graduate Route. Additionally, you are not tied to a specific job or employer and you can have multiple jobs at any skill level and can switch jobs during the course of the visa.

Once you have found suitable employment in the UK, you’ll have the chance to switch to a skilled work route and remain in the UK after your two or three years have come to an end.

'I decided to apply for the Graduate Route because I didn't need to have an employer sponsor my visa. This meant that although I was offered a job, which was part-time, I was still able to stay and work in the UK without any issues. The Graduate Route enabled me to build up experience in the UK and has acted as a stepping stone for my future success in the actuarial field.'

Lan, from China, studied Applied Actuarial Science at the University of Kent and graduated in 2022. Thanks to the Graduate Route, she lives and works in the UK.

How much does the Graduate Route cost?

Before applying for the Graduate Route visa, you should know the costs up-front. There is a one-off application fee of £715, and you must also pay the full amount for the Immigration Health Surcharge, which will cost you £624 annually.

Learn more about the Graduate Route

Learn more about the Graduate Route on GOV.UK and visit the UKCISA website for additional guidance on the Graduate Route, including where, when and how to apply, requirements and conditions, FAQs and more. Additionally, you can view the UK government's Graduate Route guide for further information.

It is worth being aware that if you impress your employer while working on the Graduate Route visa, your employer can choose to switch you onto the Skilled Worker route if the requirements are met. But note: you cannot switch from a Skilled Worker visa to a Graduate Route visa.

What is the Skilled Worker route?

A Skilled Worker visa allows you to stay in the UK with an approved employer and eligible job. You must fulfil certain requirements to apply for this type of visa - including having a job offer with a minimum salary of at least £20,960, at least £10.75 per hour, or the 'going rate' for the type of work you'll be doing, whatever is higher. Additionally, your job needs to meet the minimum levels of skill requirements. The UK government provides a list of eligible jobs* on their website that meets this requirement.

*The list of eligible jobs is in the Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Occupations. Table 1 includes most eligible jobs, with separate tables for some jobs in health and education.

How much does the Skilled Worker route cost?

In short, it depends, but employers will always incur costs when hiring a graduate on the Skilled Worker route. The standard fee ranges from £625 to £1,423, depending on your circumstances, for example, from where the graduate is applying, the type of visa they are switching from, the employer's size, and whether the employer already has a sponsor license.

It is common for employers, especially larger organisations, to pay the cost of the fee. However, it is not a given, so if you are offered a job and want to go down this route, make sure to discuss this up-front with your employer.

Get more advice on working in the UK after you complete your studies

For advice on working in the UK after you complete your studies, read our 'international students guide to working in the UK after you graduate' and visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website.

Yashodhra Sabu Graduate Route blog photo - sitting at the top of the Sky Garden

Stay and work in the UK on a Graduate Route visa

The Graduate Route means that you can stay in the UK and explore your employment options without needing an employer to sponsor your visa.

Read Yashodhra's story

Explore other UK visa options

Many options are available for international graduates looking to stay in the UK after they finish their studies. Do your research and work out which visa best suits your current situation.

Discover your options

Hear individual Graduate Route stories

'The Graduate Route was a fast and simple way for me to stay in the UK after my studies'

Guy shares how the Graduate Route helped him stay in the UK after completing his postgraduate studies without being sure about what he was going to do next.

'Working in the UK has enabled me to grow my network and skills and gain international work experience'

The Graduate Route allowed Progress to apply what she learned during her studies, grow her network and gain relevant international work experience in the UK.

'The Graduate Route gave me time to explore my employment options without time pressure'

The Graduate Route made it possible for Rodney to explore his employment options and make the decision that was right for him without needing a sponsored visa.

See also

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