Who Is Not Eligible for a Graduate Visa UK?

Who Is Not Eligible for a Graduate Visa UK?

Once your studies have finished, you may not want to leave the UK. If this is the case, the Graduate visa is a viable option for many foreign students. What the requirements are and who can and cannot apply, we’ll look at now.

Graduate Visa: An Overview

Graduate Visa: An Overview

The UK job market is not easy to enter, so the government came up with a visa that allows recent graduates to stay in the UK while they work or look for work in their desired field. This is the Graduate visa.

The Graduate visa is given for up to two years to international students who meet the eligibility requirements and wish to stay in the UK. Those who have graduated from doctorates may stay in the UK for three years with a Graduate visa.

Most work visas also have strict eligibility requirements, so graduates wishing to continue living and working in the UK once their Graduate visa has expired must secure an eligible job or other visa to allow them to stay longer, as Graduate visas cannot be extended.

Who Can Apply for the Graduate Visa?

Most international students who have studied in the UK and are still in the UK when they apply are eligible for the Graduate visa. However, they must also:

  • Be in the UK on a Student visa (formerly Tier 4 Student visa)
  • Have studied a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or postgraduate degree in the UK

The educational institution that you have studied in must inform the Home Office that you have completed your course for you to be eligible for the Graduate visa. However, they can do this as soon as your course is complete and don’t have to wait for your graduation ceremony or graduation certificate to be issued. You can ask your university or college if you’re not sure if they’ve done this for you already to help speed up the application process.

Who Is Not Eligible for a Graduate Visa?

It should go without saying that any UK national does not need to apply for a Graduate visa and anyone who has not recently graduated is ineligible for the Graduate visa. However, there are some restrictions to bear in mind when considering your eligibility for the UK Graduate visa.

Despite the UK having some overseas territories and associations with commonwealth countries, you have to have completed your studies in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) to be eligible for the Graduate visa.

You also cannot apply for the Graduate visa if you have completed studies below degree-level. Only higher education qualifications including a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, PhD or other doctorate allow international students to apply for the Graduate visa.

You must also apply before your student visa runs out. You should not overstay your student visa as you will be in the UK illegally and this will impact your ability to return to the UK in the future. So once your course has been completed, you have until your visa expires (usually two to three months) in which to apply for a Graduate visa.

Graduate visas are usually processed within 8 weeks, although there can be delays due to the surge of applications at particular times of year, as well as the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While not explicitly mentioned on the government’s website, all visas are affected by criminal behaviour. So if you have committed a crime while studying in the UK, you may have a Graduate visa application rejected. If you committed a crime that received a sentence of more than 12 months, you will likely be deported and not be permitted back into the UK.

Graduate Visa Required Documents

Applicants must pay the visa application fee, the immigration health surcharge and include several supporting documents with their Graduate visa application. The visa fee is £822, and the immigration health surcharge is usually £1,035. Any family members applying with you will also be required to pay these fees.

Necessary supporting documents include:

  • Your passport
  • Your biometric residence permit (BRP), if you have one
  • Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number from your Student visa
  • A certified translation of any document not in English or Welsh
  • Proof of your relationship with your family members (if applicable)

Your university or college will have provided evidence that you have completed your course so you do not have to submit your graduation certificate.

From 2024, most Student visa holders cannot bring family members to the UK with them, so unless they are already in the UK with you, you cannot bring your partner or children to stay with you in the UK with the Graduate visa.

Switching to a Work Visa

Switching to a Work Visa

Once your studies are complete, you can switch straight to a work visa if you meet the respective eligibility requirements. One popular work visa for graduates is the Skilled Worker visa, however, you need to have a job offer from an approved sponsor in an eligible job role, as well as meeting strict salary conditions.

Obtaining such a job offer can take some time, so the Graduate visa is an ideal visa to allow graduates the time to find the right job, with the right employer, with the right wage.

You can apply for a Skilled Worker visa while in the UK on a Graduate visa, as long as you have enough time left on the visa. If your Graduate visa expires before you receive your Skilled Worker visa, you may be asked to leave the country and will have to start your application again.

As well as a job offer from an approved employer (with a sponsorship licence) that’s on the current list of eligible occupations, to apply for a Skilled Worker visa, you need:

  • A valid identity document such as your passport
  • A ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer detailing your proposed role
  • Evidence that your job will meet the minimum salary requirements for the visa

In April 2024, the minimum salary requirement was raised significantly from £26,000 to £38,700, however, if the going rate for your job title is higher than this, you will be expected to earn at least the going rate.

Healthcare workers and some education providers do not have to meet these requirements, but have a salary of at least £29,000 instead.

Skilled work can apply to a variety of industries from hotels to financial services, so check the list of occupations before applying. The most important requirement is that you have a job offer first.

Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain

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Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a form of settlement status in the UK that allows a person to live, work, and study in the country without any time restrictions. It is also known as permanent residency. Typically, you can apply for ILR after having lived legally in the UK for at least 5 years, although certain work visas such as the Innovator Founder visas allow you to apply for ILR after only 3.

However, not every UK visa will count towards your five years spent in the UK. Study visas, Visitor visas and Graduate visas do not count towards the necessary time in the UK when applying for ILR. So if you have studied with a Student visa for 4 years in the UK and spent a further 2 years working on a Graduate visa before obtaining a Skilled Worker visa, you are only eligible to apply for ILR after another 5 years in the UK with your Skilled Worker visa.

You must also avoid spending more than 450 days outside of the UK in total, and more than 180 days in the 12 months before your application.

You also need to:

  • Meet the English language requirement
  • Meet the financial requirement
  • Pass the Life in the UK test

After 12 months with ILR, you can then apply for British citizenship if you wish to stay in the UK with full rights as a British citizen and have the chance to have a British passport.

Need Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions

Understanding the visa application process in the UK can be complicated. That’s why the team at Synergy Immigration Solutions is ready to help you. Look at our visa service for individuals, read our privacy policy for more information or simply contact us today.

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