The Graduate route was launched by the Home Office on the 1 July 2021 and gives eligible sponsored students (student visa holders), the chance to apply for permission to stay in the UK for a further two years (three for PhD students) to work or seek work.
The University of Essex is a Higher Education provider that is listed on the Register of Student Sponsors as a "Student Sponsor - Track Record" so we have a track record of compliance.
If you are thinking of going onto further study in the UK, you may need to request a new CAS from your education provider to apply for a new Student visa. This is because the type of study you can do in the UK with permission to stay as a Graduate is restricted, for instance you wouldn’t be able to study a full or part-time Masters or PhD with a Student Sponsor. You can only have Graduate permission once, even if you apply to switch into another immigration route before your two or three years is up, so don’t waste it.
Please be aware that, if you aren’t able to successfully complete your course by the course end date stated on the CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) you made to make your student visa application, you may not be eligible for further sponsorship under the Student route. If you aren’t eligible for a new CAS to apply for further permission under the Student route to complete your course inside the UK, you won’t be able to apply to the Graduate route when you are awarded your qualification.
Which Essex qualifications are eligible qualifications for the Graduate route?
Most Masters, Bachelors and PhD qualifications awarded by the University of Essex are eligible qualifications.
If you are studying for a qualification that is below degree level or for a PG Diploma or Certificate you will not be eligible.
Where can I apply for the Graduate route?
It is only possible to apply from inside the UK for permission to stay under the Graduate route. You must be able to meet all the Graduate route requirements, including those on UK residency.
If you have dependants and they are in the UK with immigration permission as your dependent, they can apply for permission to stay as your Graduate route dependent. Dependants who are not already in the UK with a dependent visa will not be able to apply, except where a dependent child was born in the UK during a period of Student or Graduate permission.
Those who were granted Tier 4 (DES) or Graduate route permission to stay previously won’t be eligible to apply.
How long do I have to be in the UK for?
If you have completed a course lasting 12 months or less, the whole of the course must have been studied inside the UK on a valid student visa.
If your course lasts longer than 12 months, you will need to have been granted student immigration permission for at least 12 months and have spent that time studying in the UK.
If you switch from another type of immigration permission into the Student route part way through your course, you may not be able to meet the UK residency requirements to be eligible for the Graduate route if you haven’t been in the UK with a Student visa for the minimum length of time.
There are Home Office concessions relating to residence in the UK due to the impact of COVID-19 so if you are unable to meet the above requirements these may mean you can still meet the UK residency criteria. You must make sure you are studying inside the UK by the relevant date specified in the Home Office Graduate route caseworker guidance and the Home Office Covid-19 concessions guidance. Links to the Immigration Rules and Guidance can be found in the ‘Advice and Guidance’ section below. At the time of writing (2 March 2022) the following concessions are in place:
- If you are studying a course of more than 12 months duration, you must have spent at least 12 months of that course studying in the UK with Student immigration permission. If you studied remotely outside the UK between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2022 this will not prevent you from meeting the ‘Study in the UK’ requirement.
- If you started an eligible course in 2020/2021 and it is up to 12 months long, you’ll need to be in the UK by the 27 September 2021 or before your student visa expires, whichever date is earlier. If you have already entered the UK on your student visa to study but have since returned overseas to study remotely, you must be back in the UK before your student visa expires.
- If you start an eligible course in autumn 2021 or spring 2022 and it is up to 12 months long, you’ll need to be in the UK with Student immigration permission by 30 June 2022.
When can I apply?
You must be able to meet all the Graduate route rules and requirements and have received confirmation from the University that your successful completion has been reported to the Home Office for Graduate route purposes. You must have a valid student visa (Tier 4 or Student route) on the date you apply.
The Home Office have stated that those who have been granted Exceptional Assurance may be able to apply, all other criteria must be met.
When will my successful completion be reported to the Home Office?
Once the Exam Board of Examiners has awarded your qualification and your student record has been updated to reflect this, if it is a qualification that meets the requirements of the Graduate route, we will carry out other necessary checks as outlined in Document 2 of the Student Sponsor Guidance. If we are satisfied, your successful completion will be reported to the Home Office via their Sponsor Management System.
You will receive a notification email from the International Services team that the successful completion report has been sent to the Home Office. It will take a few days for checks to be completed and your successful completion to be reported to the Home Office so please do not contact us as soon as you receive your award.
If you do not receive an email to your essex.ac.uk address confirming the report to the Home Office within 10 working days of receiving your final exam board results awarding your Masters, Bachelors or PhD qualification, please contact our International Services Team via the online enquiry form for current students so we can check our records.
If you are a Masters, Bachelors or PhD student, your student visa expires within 10 days of your final results being released and you haven’t yet received an email from us telling you we’ve reported your successful completion to the Home Office, contact our International Services team via the online enquiry form for current students.
I have reassessment, will I be able to apply?
If you have been awarded your qualification and are choosing to take voluntary reassessment, we will aim to report your successful completion to the Home Office when the University reassessment period is over, provided all other criteria are met. If your student visa expires before you are due to complete your reassessment, please contact our International Services team via our online enquiry form for current students.
If you haven’t been awarded your qualification and must re-submit coursework, your dissertation or re-take exams, you will not have successfully completed your course. If your student visa is still valid when you have received your final results following reassessment and you meet all criteria, we would report your successful completion at that time.
If you are required to undertake reassessment inside the UK after your current student visa expires, please contact the International Services team to request a CAS via our online enquiry form for current students. If you are eligible for a CAS and meet all the Student Immigration Rules and requirements, you will be able to apply for permission to study in the UK under the Student route, we are not able to sponsor students for reassessment that can be undertaken remotely from overseas.
I have been awarded a different qualification to the one stated on my CAS, will I be able to apply?
You can only apply if you have successfully completed an eligible Masters, Bachelors or PhD qualification, you can meet all the Graduate route Immigration Rules and requirements and we have reported your successful completion to the Home Office.
If you have completed a Masters but were sponsored for a PhD or, you are awarded an unaccredited version of the course shown on your CAS or, you changed your course to one of the same level and did not have to make a new Student visa application first, please contact the International Services team via the online enquiry form for current students as soon as your final results are released. Do not make a Graduate route application until we have confirmed we have been able to report your successful completion to the Home Office.
If you have been awarded a lower-level qualification, for instance a PG Diploma or PG Certificate, you won’t have successfully completed an eligible qualification and will not be eligible to apply to the Graduate route.
What work can I do whilst I’m awaiting the outcome of my Graduate route application?
While your Graduate route application is pending, you can continue to work under the conditions of your Student or Tier 4 permission. Read UKCISA’s guidance about Student work. Most Essex students will have a Student or Tier 4 visa that allows them to work up to 20 hours per week in term time, once you have completely finished all aspects of your course including any reassessment and your CAS course end date is past, you will no longer be in term time and can work unrestricted hours, however, the type of work you can do is still restricted until you are granted your Graduate route permission to stay. Read the UKCISA guidance and their useful blog regarding the type of work you can do with student immigration permission before you start work. If you do any work that isn’t allowed, you’ll be in breach of your immigration conditions, this is a criminal offence.
When your Graduate route permission is issued you can do any work, either employed or self-employed, except working as a professional sportsperson or coach. You can take work at any level of salary or skill, but if your plan is to find a job for which you can eventually be sponsored under the Skilled Worker route, you should check which jobs are eligible for that. For information about what work you can do when you have been granted your Graduate route permission to stay please read the Graduate Immigration Rules.
Further advice and guidance
Home Office rules and guidance:
Please read the UKCISA guidance about working after studies and specifically their Graduate route guidance for more information.
University advisers are only able to offer immigration advice regarding the UK’s Student Immigration Rules and guidance. If you require further immigration advice you will need to contact UKCISA’s student advice line or an immigration solicitor.