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UK Graduate Visa (PSW Visa) Application Guide

The UK Graduate visa (UK Post Study Work Visa or PSW visa) is for international students who have completed a degree or higher in the UK and wish to stay here to find work. To be eligible for a Graduate visa, applicants must be in the UK, hold a valid study visa, and have successfully completed a graduate or post-graduate degree (or another eligible course of study).

The UK Graduate visa allows holders to stay for up to 2 years, after which they need to switch to a different visa type (e.g., UK Skilled Worker visa) if they wish to remain for longer. It is also important to note that this visa does not provide a route to settlement in the UK (ILR).

If you have graduated from a university outside the UK, you will not qualify for this visa. However, you may want to consider the UK High Potential Individual visa instead.

UK Graduate route visa requirements

To apply, you must meet the following UK Graduate visa requirements:

  • be in the UK when you apply
  • hold a current study visa (Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa)
  • have studied with an eligible education provider in the UK
  • have studied on an eligible course
  • have completed a minimum period of time as a study visa holder
  • have completed their course of study successfully (your education provider will advise the Home Office if this is the case)

Eligible education provider

Only education providers with a student sponsorship licence are able to sponsor overseas students in the UK. The immigration rules state education providers must have a ‘track record of compliance’. To check your intended education provider has a ‘track record of compliance’, you can check the list of education providers online1.

Eligible course types

To qualify under the graduate route UK, you must have completed an eligible course type; these include:

  • UK bachelor’s degrees
  • UK master’s degrees
  • UK PhDs or doctorates
  • Law conversion courses approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
  • The Legal Practice Course in England and Wales
  • The Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland
  • Diplomas in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland
  • The Bar Practice Course in England and Wales
  • The Bar Course in Northern Ireland
  • Foundation programmes in medicine or dentistry
  • Postgraduate Certificates in Education (PGCE)
  • Postgraduate Diplomas in Education (PGDE)

Minimum period of study

To qualify for a Graduate visa in the UK, you must have completed an eligible course of study of at least 12 months (if your course was for 12 months or longer) or the total length of your course (if your course was for less than 12 months). During this time, you must have been genuinely studying, i.e., attending lectures.

How to apply for a UK Graduate visa

It is possible to apply for a Graduate visa as soon as your university or college has informed the Home Office that you have completed and passed your course. You do not have to wait to apply until you have graduated or have been given a certificate of graduation. You must apply while your study visa is still valid.

To apply for a Graduate visa, you will need to:

  1. Prepare and submit the Graduate visa application form online while in the UK2.
  2. Pay the PSW application fee (the graduate route visa costs £715) and the immigration healthcare surcharge of £624 per person per year.
  3. Book and attend an appointment at a UKVCAS service point to provide your biometrics (fingerprints and photo)
  4. Upload any documents required to support your application, including:
    1. Passport
    2. BRP card
    3. Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies reference number

In most cases, you can expect to receive a decision on your application within 8 weeks. You can stay in the UK while your application is being processed, even past the date that your visa expires.

UK Post Study Work visa (PSW) stay conditions

As a post-study visa holder, you can:

  • Look for work
  • Work – unlike most UK work visas, you are not restricted in terms of who you work for and the type of work you do, and you don’t need to be sponsored
  • Be self-employed
  • Live with your partner and children in the UK
  • Undertake voluntary work
  • Travel from and to the UK freely

As a Graduate visa holder, you cannot apply to access public funds (e.g., benefits) or the State Pension. It is also not possible to work as a professional sportsperson.

UK PSW visa validity

The UK PSW visa (Graduate visa) is valid for 2 years and cannot be extended. Those who wish to extend their stay can switch to a different type of visa based on their circumstances (e.g. work visa, family visa, or UK business visa).

PSW UK Visa Dependants

As a Graduate visa holder, your dependants can stay with you in the UK for the duration of your stay if they joined you in the UK when you held a student visa. In addition, if you have a child who was born in the UK when you held your student visa, they can also acquire a dependant visa.

Eligible dependants include your partner and children. You and your partner must be married, in a civil partnership, or have been together for 2 years or more.

If your child is 18 years or over, they must be financially dependant on you (i.e., not married or living away from you unless they live away for university).

Your dependants can live, work, and study in the UK for as long as your visa remains valid.

UK Graduate visa to ILR

The UK Graduate visa does not provide a direct route to ILR; however, it is possible to switch to another visa type that does qualify for ILR. If you switch to a different visa (e.g., Skilled Worker visa), it is important to note that the time spent in the UK on a study visa does not count towards ILR as the clock is reset when you switch.

If you apply for ILR using the 10-year-long residence route, you can include time spent on any combination of visas, including the PSW visa.

Other visa options that provide a route to ILR include the following:

How can Reiss Edwards help?

Reiss Edwards specialises in all aspects of the UK immigration. Our immigration lawyers can:

  • Explain your other visa options
  • Prepare and submit your UK visa application on your behalf
  • Handle any queries from the Home Office regarding your application
  • Manage a refusal of your UK visa application
  • Assist with your future ILR and British citizenship application.

For assistance with switching visas in the UK, please speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at


1 GOV.UK: List of qualifying education providers

2 GOV.UK: PSW visa online application form

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