Appendix Graduate: Explained


If you are either a recent overseas graduate looking to stay on in the UK for work, or a UK employer looking to hire international talent, the following essential guide examines in detail the provisions under Appendix Graduate of the UK’s Immigration Rules.

The Graduate route is an unsponsored post-study work route aimed at foreign students who want to work, or look for work, following the successful completion of an eligible course of study at UK bachelor’s degree-level or above with an approved higher education provider.

As an unsponsored route, applicants do not need a job offer from a UK employer to apply for a visa under the Graduate route, nor do they need to be offered work with any minimum skill or salary requirement. If granted a visa, they will be able to work flexibly, switch jobs and gain work experience across a wide range of UK businesses for a period of either 2-3 years. In this way, it is hoped that this route will create a rich pool of international graduate talent from which employers can recruit the best and the brightest without the need for a sponsor licence.


What are the requirements under Appendix Graduate?

To be able to take advantage of this flexible and unsponsored work route, either as an applicant or as a UK employer looking to hire talented overseas graduates, it can be helpful to understand what requirements must be met in order to be granted leave under the Rules.

There are six categories of requirements set out under Appendix Graduate, including:

  • the validation requirements
  • the suitability requirements
  • the eligibility requirements
  • the successful completion requirement
  • the qualification requirement
  • the study in the UK requirement.


The rules also set out additional detailed categories of requirements specific to dependants, although below we look solely at the requirements for the primary applicant.


Appendix Graduate validation requirements

In broad terms, the validation requirements under Appendix Graduate set out the way in which an application must be made, together with the administrative requirements associated with the application, and the basic prerequisites for being eligible to apply.

Under the Rules, an international graduate wanting to apply for leave to stay in the UK under this route must, at the time of application, be in the UK and have a valid student visa. The applicant will need the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number from their current visa to apply. They must also not have previously been granted permission to be in the UK under either the Doctorate Extension Scheme or as a Graduate.

Provided the applicant meets all of these requirements, they can apply for a Graduate visa online on the GOV.UK website. Having submitted an online application, the applicant must:

  • pay the application fee of £715, plus an Immigration Health Surcharge, set at £1248.00 for the standard 2-year graduate route or £1872.00 for the 3-year PhD graduate route;
  • provide a passport or other travel document which satisfactorily establishes their identity and nationality and, where required, provide any required biometrics;
  • provide written consent to the application from the relevant Government or international scholarship agency where they have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship covering both fees and living costs for study in the UK in the 12 months before the date of application.


Any application which fails to meet all of the validity requirements under Appendix Graduate will be treated by the Home Office as invalid and rejected.


Appendix Graduate suitability requirements

The suitability requirements are relatively short in print, although these in fact encompass a wide range of requirements, where the applicant must not fall for refusal under Part 9: Grounds for Refusal of the Immigration Rules. The focus of Part 9 is on the conduct of the applicant, including any criminality; where the applicant’s presence in the UK is not thought to be conducive to the public good; making false representations or submitting false information in relation to this or any other application; or any previous breach of immigration laws.

The Part 9 requirements apply to almost all immigration routes, and are in addition to the specific validity and eligibility requirements under the Graduate route.

Where the provisions of Part 9 apply, any refusal decision can be made by a Home Office caseworker on either a mandatory or discretionary basis. For example, in the context of any criminality, if an applicant has been convicted of an offence for which they received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more, their application to stay in the UK ‘must’ be refused.

In contrast, if an applicant has committed an offence for which they were sentenced to less than 12 months in prison, or a non-custodial sentence, the caseworker ‘may’ refuse their visa, although discretion can be exercised here depending on the circumstances. This means, even with a criminal record, the applicant may still qualify for a Graduate visa, although much will depend on the nature of the offence, the sentencing received and any mitigating factors. In some cases, however, more than one general ground for refusal may apply.

Under the suitability requirements for the Graduate route, and in addition to any previous breach of immigration laws under the general grounds for refusal, the applicant must also not be in the UK in breach of immigration laws or on immigration bail. This means that an application under the Graduate route must usually be made before any existing visa expires, except where paragraph 39E of the Rules applies: Exceptions for Overstayers.

If any one the paragraph 39E exceptions for overstaying applies, the period of overstaying will be disregarded. This could be, for example, where there is a good reason beyond the control of the applicant as to why the application could not be made in-time, and the application is in fact made within 14 days of the applicant’s leave expiring.


Appendix Graduate eligibility requirements 

The Graduate route is an immigration route under the points-based system of the UK’s Immigration Rules. This means that the applicant must be awarded a minimum number of points to qualify. Specifically, they must be awarded a total of 70 points for what is known as ‘successful course completion’. This is broken down into 3 separate requirements:

  • the successful completion requirement
  • the qualification requirement
  • the study in the UK requirement.


In broad terms, the Graduate route is for students already in the UK who want to find a job having successfully completed an eligible course of study at the required level with an approved provider. To hire under the Graduate route, an employer does not need to be a UK sponsor, or offer a job meeting certain skill or salary requirements. Equally, the applicant will not be required to show funds or finance, nor will they need to demonstrate any English language ability, as they will have already satisfied this requirement under their Student visa.

Below we look in detail at what the 3 specific eligibility requirements mean.


Appendix Graduate successful completion requirement

Under the successful completion requirement of Appendix Graduate, the applicant must have last been sponsored by a Student sponsor which is a Home Office licensed higher education provider with a track record of compliance on the date of application. The course of study must have been completed during the applicant’s last grant of permission under the Student route and, by the date of application, the Student sponsor must have notified the UK Home Office that the applicant has successfully completed their course of study.

The Graduate route is therefore available to any international student who has successfully completed the qualification named on the CAS associated with their Student visa, or following any change of course which was allowed without applying for further permission.


Appendix Graduate qualification requirement

Under the qualification requirement of Appendix Graduate, the applicant must have successfully completed a course of study for which they have been, or will be, awarded a UK bachelor’s degree or postgraduate degree, such as a masters degree, or a PhD or other doctoral qualification. The applicant will also meet the qualification requirement if they have successfully completed one of a limited number of professional qualifications at degree level or above. The relevant professional courses include:

  • a validated law conversion course in England and Wales
  • the Legal Practice Course (LPC) in England and Wales, or the LPC equivalent in Northern Ireland or Scotland
  • the Bar Practice Course (BPC) in England and Wales, or BPC equivalent in Northern Ireland
  • a foundation programme in either medicine or dentistry
  • a Postgraduate Certificate in Education or Postgraduate Diploma in Education
  • a professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above in any profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or a UK public authority.


If the name of the course of study was changed by the Student sponsor, but the course content remained the same, or if an integral and assessed work placement or permitted study abroad programme was added, the applicant will still be able to meet the qualification requirement.

However, the qualification must have been gained during the last grant of permission to study as a Student, or in the period of permission immediately before the applicant’s last grant of permission if this was to undertake a role as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.


Appendix Graduate study in the UK requirement

Under the study in the UK requirement, the applicant must have held permission as a Student, which was granted to study the relevant qualification in the UK, for a minimum period of time. This is referred to under Appendix Graduate as the ‘relevant period’, where a table is provided for the relevant period of Student permission granted during which all study took place in the UK, apart from permitted study abroad programmes.

In accordance with the prescribed relevant periods, if the total length of the course was for 12 months or less, the applicant must have studied the full duration of the course in the UK. In contrast, if the course of study undertaken by the applicant was for longer than 12 months, they must have studied in the UK for a period of at least 12 months.

Where any distance learning took place overseas between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2022, this will not prevent the applicant meeting the study in the UK requirement if either:

  • they began a course of 12 months or less prior to 21 June 2021 and entered the UK on or before 27 September 2021 with permission as a Student, or
  • they began a course of 12 months or less between 21 June 2021 and 30 June 2022 and entered the UK on or before 30 June 2022 with permission as a Student.

Any period of distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2022, as part of a course of study lasting longer than 12 months, will not prevent the applicant from meeting the requirement to spend the relevant period studying in the UK.


Need assistance?

DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists, and can advise both employers and graduates on Home Office applications including the Graduate route. For expert advice, contact us.


Appendix Graduate FAQs

How long does it take for the Graduate visa to process?

The processing time for a Graduate visa is typically up to 8 weeks, although this can vary depending on service status at the time the application is submitted, and whether the individual has applied using the ‘UK Immigration ID Check’ app or at a visa application centre.

Can PSW be rejected?

A PSW (post study work) visa, now known as the UK Graduate visa, can be rejected in a number of circumstances, including where any of the validity requirements for the relevant route have not been met.

Do I get a new BRP with graduate visa?

If an application for a Graduate visa is successful, the applicant will usually be granted digital immigration status. Visa nationals will also get a new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

Last update: 21 May 2022


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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