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International Students

 

Permission to stay under the Graduate route will enable international students to work or look for work after their studies for 2 years, or 3 years for PhD students. The work can be in any sector and at any level without any minimum salary requirements or the need for visa sponsorship.

Students studying on a Tier 4/Student visa will need to make an application in the UK to be granted permission under the route after successful completion of their degree. There are specific eligibility requirements so you are advised to read the information on this page in full.

It is possible to work full-time on your Tier 4/Student visa after you have completed your course and whilst it remains valid, but with some restrictions on the type of work you can do. Information is outlined on our Working on a student visa webpage.

Eligibility requirements

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

  • hold a current Tier 4/Student visa;

Not all courses at Cambridge are eligible for student visa sponsorship and therefore will not be eligible for the Graduate route. This includes most part-time taught courses which are supported under the visitor route. PhD graduates with permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme are not eligible to apply for a Graduate visa.

  • have studied a Bachelors, Masters, PGCE, or PhD at Cambridge;

Advanced Diploma, and other non-degree awarding qualifications except the PGCE, are not eligible to apply for a Graduate visa.

  • have successfully completed your degree;

You are considered to have successfully completed your degree for the purpose of applying for the Graduate visa once you have received your final results and your record is updated to reflect completion. It does not mean you need to have attended a graduation ceremony. Please note it may take several weeks for your record to be updated after you have received your final results. Completion for PhD students is unconditional approval, which is normally submission of the hardbound thesis.

You need to have completed the degree for which your Tier 4/Student visa was granted, unless it is a change permitted under student visa policy. Students who have a Tier 4/Student visa for a four year Integrated Masters course are eligible to apply for the Graduate visa if they successfully complete their studies and exit with the Bachelors qualification.

Following the updating of your student record to reflect completion, and if you meet all of the eligibility criteria, you will need to wait until you have received an email from the International Student Office confirming the International Student Office has notified UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) of your successful completion before you applying for the Graduate visa. See the section on 'When can I apply?'.

  • have studied for a minimum period of time in the UK on a Tier 4/Student visa;

All full-time Cambridge students would usually meet this requirement owing to the University’s residence requirements. The minimum period of study for the Graduate visa is at least 12 months OR the full length of your course, whichever is shorter. Permitted 'study abroad' activities (i.e. activities undertaken overseas as part of a course) or time spent overseas during permitted breaks from study such as during official vacation periods or at the weekend can be included in the minimum period.

Concessions exist for studies during the pandemic. See the section on ‘Studying remotely owing to the pandemic’.

The minimum period of study can be undertaken on more than one Tier 4/Student visa if granted to study the same qualification at the University.

If you switch to a student visa from another immigration category during your course, you would not be eligible for a Graduate visa unless you will have studied for the minimum period on a Tier 4/Student visa prior to completion as outlined above. If you are switching from another immigration category to start your studies at Cambridge, you can include the time whilst the application is pending in the minimum study period. 

  • provide a letter of consent if financially sponsored by a Government or international scholarship agency;

If in the 12 months before the date of application you have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship by a Government or international scholarship agency covering fees and living costs for study in the UK, you must provide a letter of consent from the sponsor organisation to support the application.

  • apply in the UK within the validity of your current Tier 4/Student visa.

See the section 'Studying remotely owing to the pandemic' for information about concessions put in place due to COVID-19.

Conditions of permission

Permission under the Graduate route will be granted subject to the following conditions:

  • any work in the UK (including paid and unpaid, self-employment, engaging in business or any professional activity) is permitted. The only restriction is a prohibition on working as a professional sportsperson or coach;
  • study is restricted on this visa and is only permitted on courses that would not meet the requirements for student visa sponsorship. If you are continuing to further study at Cambridge, or at another institution, and plan to apply for the Graduate visa, you should first check whether it will be possible for you to study on your chosen course under this visa;
  • no access to public funds.

The permission granted under the Graduate route, 2 years for undergraduate and Masters students and 3 years for PhD students, will start from when the decision is made on the application.  

It is not possible to extend your permission under the Graduate route once granted. From the Graduate route, you would be able to switch to a Skilled Worker visa from within the UK if you are offered a suitable job with an employer who holds a sponsor licence.

It is only possible to be granted permission under the Graduate route once. You cannot apply again, for example, if you were to undertake another course of study.

When can I apply?

You should only make your application once the University has notified UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that you have successfully completed your degree. This is in accordance with the Graduate route visa policy.  The International Student Office will make this report to UKVI after you have received your final results and your University record has been updated to reflect completion. Please note it can take several weeks after you have received your results for your University record to be updated. The International Student Office is not directly involved in the process of updating student records so we request that you do not contact our office to ask when this will happen unless it is close to your current visa expiry date. The International Student Office will confirm to you when the report has been made to UKVI and you will receive this by email to the email address on your student record. Do not submit your Graduate visa application until you have received this email.

You will need to apply in the UK whilst your current Tier 4/Student visa is still valid.

If your visa expires after you have applied to the Graduate route, you will be permitted to remain in the UK whilst your application is being considered. You will continue to work under the conditions of your Tier 4/Student permission until you have received the outcome of your Graduate visa application. 

Application cost

The visa application fee is £700. In addition, the application will also require you to pay the immigration health surcharge and this is charged at £624 per year the visa will be granted (£1,248 for 2 years and, for PhD students, £1872 for 3 years).

Application process

You make an application online.

As part of the process you will need to prove your identity by using a ‘UK Immigration ID Check’ app on your phone to scan your current Tier 4/Student Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or, if you are an EEA or Swiss national, your biometric passport. You will be given instructions on how to use the app in the application. It is free and compatible with Android phones and iPhone 7 or newer models. If you do not own a compatible phone, you can use the app from a friend’s mobile phone as no information is stored on the phone or app after you close it.

If you cannot use the app, you will need to book an in-person appointment for biometric enrolment for which there may be a charge depending on the location you select.

As part of the application:

  • You will need your passport and current Tier4/Student BRP to apply.
  • You will need to know the CAS number you used to support your Tier 4/student visa application. You would have received this by email from internationalstudents@admin.cam.ac.uk with the title ‘Cambridge University Student Visa Application Your CAS Statement (CAS assigned)’ prior to making your Tier 4/student visa application. You can search for this email in your mailbox.
  • You will need a letter of consent if you have been financially sponsored for your studies by a Government or international scholarship agency.
  • There will be no requirement to provide financial evidence with the application.

The advertised decision timeframe is 8 weeks from when you submit your application.

Please note that once you have made your application, you cannot travel overseas until you have been notified of the decision.

eVisa

When granted, the visa will be issued as a digital status, also called an eVisa.

The digital status will enable you to prove your right to live and work in the UK online.

Visa nationals (i.e. nationalities who require entry clearance prior to travel to the UK as a visitor) will also be issued a new Biometric Resident Permit (BRP). It is likely this will need to be shown in order to travel to the UK whilst your Graduate visa is valid. Visa nationals are therefore advised to wait to receive the new BRP once the visa has been granted before travelling overseas.

If you cannot use the app as part of the application, and need to enrol your biometrics at an in-person appointment, you will also be issued a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

When you set up your UKVI account to apply for this visa you will use your BRP to verify your identity, unless you are an EEA or Swiss national. UKVI advises that once you have received your eVisa, you should sign back into your UKVI account using the information on your BRP but then change the main ‘sign-in’ document to your current passport. This is to ensure you can continue to access your UKVI account easily and should also ensure that you avoid unnecessary delays when travelling in and out of the UK. If you renew your passport, you should sign in and update these details in your UKVI account.

Studying remotely owing to the pandemic

Concessions have been put in place owing to the pandemic. Students who have been studying remotely will still be able to apply for the Graduate route as long as the eligibility requirements outlined above are met. You will need to be in the UK by a certain date depending on the course and your circumstances:

  • If you are on a course of 12 months or less which started in 2020 and have not yet travelled to the UK to study that course, you will need to have arrived before your visa ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner. Please note this has been updated from the previous deadline date of 21 June 2021.
  • If you are on a course of 12 months or less which started in 2021 and have not yet travelled to the UK to study that course, you will need to have arrived by 27 September 2021.
  • If you started on a course of 12 months or less which started in 2020 and have already travelled to the UK during your current Tier 4/Student visa but are currently studying remotely overseas, you will need to have returned to the UK in time to apply for the new Graduate route by the expiry of your current Tier 4/Student visa.
  • If you are studying a course longer than 12 months, you will need to have returned to the UK in time to apply for the new Graduate route by the expiry of your current Tier 4/Student visa.
Dependants

Students with dependant family members in the UK who already have immigration permission as a Tier 4 or Student dependant can apply for further permission to stay as a dependant under the Graduate route. Children born in the UK either during your Tier4/Student visa, or whilst on the Graduate visa, can also apply. It is not possible for other dependants to join you once you have been granted the Graduate visa.

Further information about dependant eligibility is outlined on the UKVI website.

Further information

Read the information on the UKVI webpages and their Graduate immigration route guide.

If you have any questions about the Graduate route contact the International Student Office.

Immigration rules and policy are subject to change. These webpages are updated as soon as possible following any changes but relevant pages of the Home Office website should be checked for the latest information. The International Student Office can only provide information and advise on current policy; it is not possible to speculate on future immigration changes or developments in relation to post-study visa options.