Student Immigration

All you need to know about VISAs and studying

Graduate route ("Post-study work")

What is it?

The Graduate Immigration Route provides an opportunity for international students who have been awarded their degree to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, at any skill level for 2 years, or 3 years for doctoral students. It is essentially the re-introduction of a post-study work visa.

Who can apply?

You must meet certain requirements to be eligible:

  • you must be in the UK to apply; and
  • you must already hold valid immigration permission under Tier 4 or as a Student (but not under the Doctorate Extension Scheme); and
  • you must have successfully completed a full undergraduate or postgraduate degree (e.g. Masters or PhD) or one of the specific alternative qualifications confirmed by UKVI (see FAQ section below for a full list); and
  • the University must have notified UKVI that you have successfully completed your course before you submit your visa application; and
  • you must not have previously been granted a visa under the Graduate Immigration Route or Doctorate Extension Scheme; and
  • you must have permission from your financial sponsor (only if your financial sponsor was a government sponsor or an international scholarship agency); and
  • you must have spent at least 12 months studying your course inside the UK, if your course is longer than 12 months, on a Tier 4 or Student visa (See the section on remote study below); or
  • you must have spent the full duration of your course studying inside the UK, if the length of your course is 12 months or less, on a Tier 4 or Student visa. (See the section on remote study below)

Further information:

You can familiarise yourself with the requirements of the route and watch the Student Fringe recordings offered by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).
Other sources of information can be found as follows:
UKCISA – Working after studies
The Graduate Route: information for international students
Immigration Rules: Appendix Graduate

University processes


The University is required to report your successful completion to the Home Office. We can only do this upon release of your confirmed, final results which is dependent on your level of study:
Undergraduate Finalists
All final results should be released in July 2023.

Postgraduate Taught
Official results are likely to be released in October/November 2023 (after a course completion date of September 2023. Other dates may apply depending on programme specification).

Postgraduate Research
You must have had your viva, completed any necessary periods of corrections and have gone on the pass list for us to confirm your official completion.

In any case, you should not submit an application for the Graduate Route until after we have confirmed that we have reported your successful completion. Thereafter, you will be able to submit an application at any time prior to your current visa expiry date.

Eligibility checks

In order for us to report the successful completion of your programme to the Home Office, we are required to carry out eligibility checks as part of our reporting duties.
If you wish to apply for the Graduate Route, you will be required to:

  • complete and submit an Intention to Apply form
  • provide evidence of your most recent arrival in the UK (copy of the entry stamp in your passport)
  • complete and submit a Previous CAS Request form (should you also require this information)
  • not have a tuition debt on your record; please contact the Income Office if you do

Processing forms and conducting eligibility checks may take up to 15 working days. We ask that you do not email to chase up during this time.

Remote study outside the UK due to COVID-19:

Course duration of 12 months or less started in Autumn 2020 or Spring 2021:

Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or Spring 2021 via distance learning, and who had not previously entered the UK to study that course will be able to make a Graduate application if they arrived in the UK either before their visa ended or by 27 September 2021 (whichever was sooner).
Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or Spring 2021 who have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and who have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to make a Graduate application as long as they are present in the UK before the end date of their permission.

Course duration of 12 months or less started in Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022:

Students who began a course of 12 months or less in Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022 via distance learning from overseas must enter the UK no later than 30 June 2022 and complete that course of study in the UK with permission as a Student to be eligible for the Graduate Route. Students should travel once they are able to do so.

Course duration of more than 12 months:

Where your course is longer than 12 months, you will need to return to the UK before your Student or Tier 4 visa expires. You will still be considered to meet the ’study in the UK’ requirement if the following amounts to at least 12 months:

  • the time you have spent in the UK studying your course with a Student or Tier 4 visa: plus
  • any time you spent studying remotely either in the UK or overseas between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 or via distance learning overseas between 27 September 2021 and 30 June 2022 whilst you still have a Student or Tier 4 visa

If your current permission expires prior to 30 June 2022, you must enter the UK before the expiry of your Tier 4/Student permission.

Support with employability and careers

ASPIRE: If you are interested in a business idea or launching a start-up, in learning more about entrepreneurship or sustainable innovation, ASPIRE, the University-wide space for entrepreneurship and start-ups is here for you. Our co-curricular programme run by ASPIRE allows students to develop their entrepreneurship skills and prepares them for starting their own venture. Watch a video about it all here.

Careers and employability: Make the most of your time at Kent by using your Careers and Employability Service. We provide the advice, workshops and tools to prepare Kent students and graduates for employment and further study after graduation.


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Last Updated: 28/03/2023