An Opportunity to work and study 

Immigration path to the UK

There’s great news for anyone considering studying in the UK, as the government has announced that its new Graduate Route post-study work visa will open on 1 July 2021.

You can apply if your degree finishes after this date, even if you’ve had to study part of it by distance learning from outside the UK. How long you can stay on the Graduate Route depends on your qualification:

  • Masters graduates (and Bachelors graduates) can live and work in the UK for up to two years
  • PhD graduates can live and work in the UK for up to three years

You don’t need to be in employment to stay on the Graduate Route and there’s no restriction on the kind of work you can do.

Here are the answers to common questions you may have, including those specific to Masters and PhD study (it’s what we do, after all).

Who will be eligible for a Graduate Route visa?

  • The Graduate Route will be available to anyone who graduates from a UK degree with a valid visa (Tier 4 or Student Route) on or after 1 July 2021.
  • Eligibility isn’t restricted by subject area or nationality.

Will I need a job offer?

  • No. You don’t have to have been offered a job in the UK to apply to the Graduate Route.

What work can I do?

  • There’s no restriction on the kind of work you can do and no minimum salary level. You can spend as long as you like looking for work and you’re able to leave or switch jobs without any effect on your visa.

How many people can access the Immigration path to the UK?

  • There will be no cap on the number of people who can benefit from the Immigration path to the UK.

What will happen when when my Graduate Route Visa expires?

  • At the end of the two-year period you will need to leave the UK or apply for a different visa, such as a Tier 2 General work visa.
  • The Tier 2 visa does require you to have an employment offer with a minimum skill and salary level, but your time on the Graduate Route should make it much easier to work towards this.
  • You won’t be able to apply for a second Graduate Route visa if you aren’t eligible for a Tier 2 visa.

Will I need to make a new application for the Graduate Route?

  • Yes. You will need to apply for a separate Graduate Route visa before your student visa expires.

Will my university need to sponsor my application?

  • No. You will not need any sponsorship to apply for the Graduate Route.

Will there be a fee for the Graduate Route visa?

  • Yes. You will need to pay a separate visa fee to access the Graduate Route. You will also need to pay another Immigration Health Surcharge to cover each additional year you spend in the UK.

What will the application deadline be?

  • You will need to apply to the Graduate Route before your current student visa expires.
  • Exactly when this is will depend on your course. A Tier 4 or Student Route visa will normally last for the duration of your Masters or PhD plus an additional four month grace period. Masters students who applied through the Tier 4 pilot scheme (before October 2020) will have a slightly longer grace period of up to six months.
  • You can find out exactly how long your visa lasts by checking your Confirmation of Acceptance for Study (CAS) or asking your university.

Does the Graduate Route replace the Tier 4 visa pilot for Masters students?

  • The Tier 4 pilot scheme allowed Masters students at 27 UK universities to benefit from a simpler visa application process and a longer grace period after their degree ended. It closed to new applicants in October 2020.
  • The Graduate Route now allows all international students to remain in the UK for a much longer period after their degree.

Will the Graduate Route replace the doctorate extension scheme for students?

  • The Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) allowed PhD graduates to extend their student visa for 12 months. It has effectively been incorporated into the Graduate Route for PhD students, which offers doctoral graduates three-years of post-study entitlement instead of two.
  • From July 2021 you only need to apply to the Graduate Route. You don’t need to apply to the DES as well (and won’t be able to).

Can EU students apply to the Graduate Route?

  • EU (and EEA and Swiss) students without settled or pre-settled status in the UK can also apply to the Graduate Route in the same way as other international students. You won’t need a post-study work visa to remain in the UK if you have settled or pre-settled status.
  • Note that, following Brexit, EU students are no longer automatically entitled to live and work in the UK without a visa.

Is the Graduate Route affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak?

  • You will normally need to have studied your degree in the UK in order to apply to the Graduate Route. However, due to coronavirus, the UK government is temporarily allowing students who are studying remotely (from outside the UK) to apply in 2021, provided they arrive in the UK to study before 21 June (if their programme began in the Autumn) or 27 September (if their programme began in January or February).

What are the annual salaries working in the UK?



Human Resources Manager

£ 35,761

Medical Practitioners 

£ 72,019

General Manager

£ 35,388

IT Business Analysts 

£ 47,948

Healthcare Assistant

£ 24,449

Restaurant Manager

£ 24,770

Health Services Administrator

£ 24,780


£ 42,984

Marketing Managers

£ 48,531

Relations Manager

£ 45,085


£ 42,494

Corporate Lawyer

£ 50,641

HR Managers

£ 47,800


£ 37,790

Hotel Managers

£ 31,168

Finance Managers

£ 49,495

Cabin Crew 

£ 18,723

Office Managers

£ 32,209

Employee Relations Manager

£ 45,085


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