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Graduate visa

Graduate Route

Graduate Route

Graduate Route

Important: Most study is not permitted on a Graduate visa, including Masters and PhD programmes at the University of Exeter.

The Graduate visa allows eligible students to remain in the UK and work, or look for work, for 2 years after they complete their studies (or 3 years if they have completed a PhD). We strongly recommend you read through each of these sections before you submit an application or if you prefer you can watch the recording of our Graduate visa webinar above 


Do not submit an application until you meet all the eligibility criteria below otherwise you risk a visa refusal or losing your application fee. 

  • You must have a valid Student or Tier 4 visa. 

  • You must apply from inside the UK before your Student/Tier 4 visa expires. It is not possible to apply for the Graduate visa outside the UK. 

  • You must have been physically in the UK, on a Student/Tier 4 visa, for all of your course (if your course is less than 12 months) or for at least 12 months of your course (if your course is more than 12 months). There are some exceptions for remote study due to Covid-19, see below. 

  • Your degree must have been awarded and confirmed to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). You must wait till you have received an email from the University confirming we have notified UKVI of your awardYou do not need to request this notification, the University will notify UKVI as soon as possible after you are awarded. 

Referred/deferred assessments which are due after the original end date of the course may affect your eligibility for the Graduate visa. See the retaking exams or modules webpage which addresses the various situations students may be in.

Research students: You will be awarded a PhD or MPhil after your final, corrected thesis has been approved. This is after your viva and corrections are submitted.

The usual expectation of the Graduate route is that you study your course fully in the UK. However, the government recognises that some students have needed to study remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If you studied remotely in 2020/21 or 2021/22 academic years, you need to arrive in the UK, with a valid Tier 4 / Student visa by the dates listed below: 

  • Masters courses started in Sep/Oct 2020 or Jan 2021:
    • You must have arrived in the UK by 27 September 2021. If you traveled to the UK before September 2021 but later left and switched to remote study, you must return to the UK before your Tier 4/Student visa expires

  • Masters courses started in Sept 2021 or Jan 2022:
    • You must arrive in the UK on your Student visa by 30 June 2022 and complete your studies in the UK.
  • Undergraduate students completing in June 2022:
    • You must arrive in the UK on your Tier 4 / Student visa by 30 June 2022.

  • Undergraduate students completing in June 2023 or beyond:
    • You must return to the UK by September 2022 at the latest but you will also need to ensure that you have spent at least 12 months of your course in the UK on a Tier 4 / Student visa in order to be eligible for the Graduate visa.
  • PhD students:
    • You must ensure that you spend at least 12 months of your course in the UK on a Tier 4 / Student visa in order to be eligible for the Graduate visa.

You should submit a visa application after you have been awarded but before your Student/Tier 4 visa expires.

Your degree must have been awarded and confirmed to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) by the University. You must wait till you have received an email from the University confirming we have notified UKVI of your award.

Students who do not have any outstanding assessments after their course end date can expect to be awarded in the following months:

  • Undergraduate students will be awarded in June
  • Postgraduate taught students who started in September will be awarded in November
  • Postgraduate taught students who started January will be awarded in March​

​PhD students first submit their thesis and have the viva usually within 3 months. Any corrections that are required need to me made and the corrected thesis submitted. Once the corrections have been approved the PhD is awarded.

If you have any outstanding assessments after your course end date has passed, you will need to contact your Hub for an estimated award date. If this is after your visa expiry date, this is may affect your Graduate Visa eligibility.

How to apply

You will need to fill in the Graduate visa application form and to upload any documents required. The application form (and detailed process) is available here: 

You will need to prove your identity as part of the application process. You will usually do this using the UK Immigration: ID Check app. You will be directed to scan either your passport, your BRP or both. 

If you cannot scan your passport or BRP with the app, you’ll be asked to get your fingerprints and photograph taken at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point. 

You’ll be told what you need to do when you apply. 

There is no financial requirement for the Graduate route. Unlike other visas, you will not need to keep a certain amount of money in your bank account or submit bank statements with your visa application. 

You will need to make the following payments at the point of application by debit or credit card: 

  • Application fee: £715 
  • Immigration Health Surcharge: £624 per year. Undergraduate and Masters graduates will pay £1,248 for a 2 year visa, PhD graduate will pay £1,872 for a 3 year visa 
  • Passport 
  • BRP card 
  • CAS number from last visa application 
  • Police registration certificate (if required to register with the police) 
  • Sponsor permission letter if sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency in the past 12 months. 

Family members who are currently in the UK with you as dependants on your Tier 4 / Student visa will be able to extend their visas with you. You will need to pay the same application and Immigration Health Surcharge fees for each dependant.  

Documents for dependants:

  • Unique Application Number (UAN) found on email from the Home Office about your application. 
  • Passport 
  • BRP card 
  • Police registration certificate (if required to register with the police) 
  • If your partner has been received financial sponsorship from a government or international scholarship agency in their own right in the last 12 months, your partner will need a letter from the provider approving their Graduate visa application. 
  • Evidence of relationship
    • For a child the birth certificate is required
    • For a spouse the marriage certificate is required. If you have married recently or do not yet live together we recommend including additional papers to further evidence that you relationship is long term and subsisting. Contact us, what we advise you to provide will depend on your individual circumstances.
    • An unmarried partner is required to provide substantial evidence from official sources that show you have been living together for at least two years. This requirement can be difficult to meet and we recommend you contact us for detailed advice.

Dependent application form:



Study is restricted on the Graduate visa. If it is possible to apply for a Student visa for the course you wish to study, you will not be allowed to study it while you have a Graduate visa. In practice, this means that you cannot study most degree-level courses and will also be prevented from studying a significant number of courses below degree level. If you are unsure whether you wish to seek employment or pursue future study, you need to make this decision before you apply for your Graduate visa.

If you are granted a Graduate visa and then with to enrol on a further degree course (for example, progressing from a BSc to an MSc), you will have to apply for a Student visa to study that course. Your Graduate visa will be cancelled and you will not be eligible to apply for another one after your new course as you can only hold a Graduate visa once.

You are allowed to work full or part time, you can be self-employed or freelance or use the visa to do an internship or volunteer, or you can do a combination of all of these on your Graduate visa. The only restriction is that you cannot work as a professional sportsperson or coach ​

You do however need to stick to the Student visa conditions until your Graduate visa is granted and will need to wait till after you have your graduate visa to start a business or accept a permanent full-time vacancy. ​

Further information

The Home Office has created a useful guide on what to expect when you receive your decision (page 4), how to update your details (page 5), and switching out of the Graduate visa to another visa route (page 7). You can access this guide here.

If you feel a prospective employer would benefit from further information on the working visa options for international students, you may want to share the following documents with them:

The University of Exeter is committed to ensuring that all our international students are provided with expert advice and support to enable them to secure a graduate level job, either in the UK or overseas.

For more information about the support we offer, please check our Career Zone information for international students.