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Visa Options After Completing Your Course

As of 5 October 2020, the Home Office renamed the Tier 4 General visa route to ‘Student route visa’.  Please note wherever this guidance refers to a ‘Student route’ visa, this also includes anyone who currently holds a valid Tier 4 General visa.

Students who complete their course on a Student visa must leave the UK before this expires. This section of the website provides information on visa options currently available once you’ve completed your course.

Graduate route

The Graduate route will launch from 1 July 2021. Students who successfully complete a degree in the UK may be eligible to apply for the new Graduate route so they can work or look for work in the UK for up to 2 years. Those who complete a PhD can apply to spend 3 years in the UK on the Graduate route.

On 4 March 2021 the Government has published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules. We can confirm the following information:

  • The route will open for applications on 1 July 2021 at 9am.
  • You must apply in the UK with a valid Tier 4 or Student visa. You must have successfully completed a UK bachelor's degree or postgraduate degree during the validity of your most recent Tier 4 or Student visa.
  • Postgraduate diplomas and certificates are not eligible courses.
  • Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 via distance learning who did not enter the UK to study their course, will need to arrive in the UK on or before 27 September 2021. If you have not already done so, you will need to submit a successful Student visa application before you travel. If your Student visa expires before 27 September, you must come to the UK and submit the Graduate route application before your visa expires.
  • Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 who have already applied for their Student visa and traveled to the UK on that visa, will be able to apply for the Graduate route if they re-enter the UK and before the end date of their visa.
  • Students who are studying on a course longer than 12 months do not have any specific deadline to return to the UK. However, you can only apply in the UK with a valid Student visa. Any time you have spent outside the UK distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 will not prevent you from applying for the Graduate route.
  • Your partner or children can apply to stay as your dependent if they're already in the UK as your dependent under the Tier 4 or Student route. If they remained outside the UK during your course, they cannot come to the UK to join you under the Graduate route as your dependent.
  • You cannot extend this visa but may be able to switch into other visa types such as Skilled Worker, if you meet the requirements.
  • There will be an application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge to pay when submitting an application.

You can find further information on the UKCISA website.

Graduation ceremonies

If your Student visa has expired or you have left the country once your course finished, you must apply for a suitable visa (e.g. Standard Visitor visa) to return to the UK and attend your graduation ceremony.

Learn more in our factsheet: Graduation ceremonies and visas (PDF 308KB)

Start Up visa

The Start-Up visa is for international students who have completed their degree course and wish to remain in the UK to develop a business.

Any international graduate who has been awarded a PGDip, Bachelor, Masters or PhD degree from UAL can apply to be considered for a for a Start-Up endorsement. Applications can be made up to 2 years after graduation.

Learn more on the University and the UK Government  websites.

Skilled Worker visa (previously known as Tier 2 General)

For students and graduates who have a job offer. This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.


You must have been offered a skilled job by an employer holding a skilled worker sponsor licence and a salary of at least £20,480 per year (conditions apply) unless the ‘going rate’ for your job is higher than this.

How to apply

You can switch to this type of visa before your Student visa expires, or you can apply from outside the UK (providing you meet the relevant criteria).

Learn more on the UK Government and UKCISA websites.

Student visa for Sabbatical officers

For current students and recent graduates with a Student visa that permits them to work can undertake a full-time sabbatical officer position.


Initially up to 1 year, with the possibility of extending it for 1 further year if you are re-elected.

How to apply

You can switch to this type of visa before your Student visa expires, or you can apply from outside the UK (provided you meet the eligibility criteria).

Learn more on the UKCISA website.

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa

For students and graduates who want to study, work, run a business or just experience life in the UK.


You must be aged 18-30 and from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, San Marino or Taiwan. British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Nationals (Overseas) can also apply.

How to apply

From outside the UK only.

Learn more on the UK Government and UKCISA websites.

Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange)

For graduates willing to take part in work placement schemes.


Up to 2 years. You need to take part in one of the UK-government approved work placement schemes.

How to apply

You can switch to this type of visa before your Student visa expires, or you can apply from outside the UK.

Learn more on the UK Government and UKCISA websites.

UK Ancestry visa

For Commonwealth citizens planning to work in the UK.


You need to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, or one of the circumstances listed on the UK Government website.

It can be granted for 5 years initially, with possibility of extending it for another 5 years.

How to apply

From outside the UK only.

Learn more on the UK Government and UKCISA websites.

Partner of someone settled in the UK

For people who wish to join or remain with their partner in the UK.


Your partner must have specific immigration permission (as detailed on the UK Government website) to be in the UK.

Learn more on the UK Government website.

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