Graduate Route

The Graduate Route launched in July 2021

The Graduate Route is a post-study work visa available to international students who have successfully completed an eligible degree at undergraduate level or above at RAU and who have a valid Tier 4 or Student Visa at the time of application. The Graduate Route also replaces the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) visa.

The Graduate Route is an unsponsored, post-study work visa. Graduates in this visa will be able to work in the UK for the duration of the visa. The type of work included

  • Self-employment
  • Voluntary work
  • Part-time
  • Fixed term or casual contract

N.B. The Graduate route visa does not include working as a professional sportsperson.

There are no minimum salary requirements or minimum number of hours on this route.

This scheme does not lead to UK settlement (permanent residency in the UK).


Duration of the Graduate Route visas

  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate taught courses applicants will be eligible for a two-year visa
  • PhD graduates will be eligible for a three-year visa

Requirements of eligibility:

  • Have successfully completed an eligible course at RAU

You will meet the qualification requirement if you have successfully completed a course of study for which you have been or will be awarded a UK Bachelor’s degree, a UK post graduate degree (Master's or Doctorate degree).

If the name of your course of study was changed by the Student sponsor, but the course content remained the same, or if an integral and assessed work placement or permitted study abroad programme was added, this will not prevent you from being able to meet the qualification requirement.

The qualification must have been gained during the last visa to study as a Student.

You will not be eligible to apply if you are awarded a lower qualification, unless the lower qualification is a full degree (e.g. a Bachelors Degree). E.g. you will not be eligible if you exit with a PG Cert / PG Diploma upon course completion.

  • You need to have a valid Student or Tier 4 visa at the time of application
  • You can only apply for this visa from inside the UK

The RAU will need to report to the Home Office that you have completed your course before you can apply for the visa. You must have held a Student/Tier 4 visa for at least 12 months if studying a course longer than 12 months or for the full duration of your course if the course is 12 months or less. If, in the last 12 months before the date of your application, you have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship by a Government or international scholarship agency covering both fees and living costs for study in the UK, you must provide written consent to the application from that Government or agency.

N.B: Students who are currently sponsored on the Doctorate Extension Scheme will not be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route. 

There are several concessions to the study in UK requirement which have been introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic for students due to graduate in 2021. For information please see the useful links at the end of the page.

It is important to remember that these concessions are subject to change without warning, and do not form part of the immigration rules.

Family members

Dependent family members will be permitted on the Graduate Route, provided those family members are in the UK and they hold a valid permission as dependents of the main applicant on the Student/Tier 4 route. New dependents’will not be permitted, except where a dependent child was born in the UK during a period of Student or Graduate permission.


The Graduate Route will require a new visa application, which will only be possible from inside the UK. It will include the payment of a visa fee of £700 and the Immigration Health Surcharge at the full rate of £624 per year.

Students will need to know the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) they used for their most recent Student (or Tier 4) application in order to apply for the Graduate Route. RAU will make your CAS letter available upon request from

As part of the Graduate Route scheme the RAU is required to report to UKVI that students have been awarded their degree. Once we have done this you will be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route. We will be contacting all relevant students via email to notify them once we have reported this to UKVI. You have up until the expiry of your current Tier 4/Student Visa to submit your Graduate Route application.

Reporting completion of your studies to the UKVI

We are only be able to submit a notification to UKVI that you have been awarded your degree once your marks have been ratified by the RAU’s Exam Boards and noted on our systems.

For Postgraduate Research students, we expect to submit a notification of award to UKVI within seven working days of the award being noted on the system.


While your Graduate Route application is being considered by the Home Office, you can continue to work under the conditions of your Student or Tier 4 visa.

When your Graduate Route visa is issued you can do any work, can take work at any level of salary or skill, be either employed or self-employed, except working as a professional sportsperson or coach.


The immigration rules state that you cannot study any course which could, in theory, be sponsored under the Student Route. 

In this case examples of permitted study under the Graduate Route scheme would be:

  • Part-time undergraduate course
  • English language courses
  • Some professional courses
  • Online study
  • Evening classes
  • Recreational courses

Useful links