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Work and Business Visa Routes for Graduates

If you are thinking of the UK visa options available for graduates, you may want to have a look at this post where we set out the various work and business visa options available to graduates. 

Graduate Visa

When you complete an eligible UK degree, the Graduate Visa gives you an option to remain in the UK to look for work or to work. This route allows you to stay in the UK for two years, or three years for successful completion of a PHD or doctoral course.

You may be eligible to apply for a graduate visa if you meet the following requirements:

  • Successfully completed a UK degree or other eligible course;
  • Your education provider has a track record of compliance as a licensed sponsor;
  • You must have or have last had permission as a student;
  • You have not previously been granted permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme or as a Graduate;
  • Your sponsor has notified the Home Office that you have successfully completed the course of study;
  • You do not fall for refusal on grounds of suitability;

For more information on what you can do and cannot do on a Graduate Visa, please read our post here

High Potential Individual Visa

The High Potential Individual Visa is a new route that opened on 30 May 2022 to attract international graduates from overseas leading universities to come to the UK to work or to look for work. This visa category is not a sponsored route and does not lead to settlement. Our High Potential Individual Visa Application Guide provides answers to various questions relating to the High Potential Individual Visa, including the English language and financial requirements. 

To be eligible, applicants must be awarded a qualifying degree no more than the 5 years before the date of application. Your qualification must be awarded from a university that is on the Global Universities List and supported by confirmation from Ecctis that your qualification meets the recognised standard of a UK bachelor’s or UK postgraduate degree.

Global Business Mobility – Graduate Trainee Visa

This route replaces the previous Intra-Company Graduate Trainee Visa route. The Global Business Mobility – Graduate Trainee Visa allows applicants to come to the UK on a temporary basis as part of a graduate training course leading to a senior managerial or specialist role. 

In order to qualify for a Global Business Mobility – Graduate Trainee Visa, the following requirements will need to be met:

  • You have to be 18 years or over;
  • You are working for an overseas company for at least 3 months before the date of application and the organisation is linked to the UK company by common ownership or control, or by a joint venture on which you are sponsored to work;
  • The UK sponsor has issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (‘CoS’) for the job you are planning to do;
  • The job you are planning to do is genuine and is at an appropriate skill level;
  • You will be paid a salary which equals or exceeds £23,100 per year and 70% of the pro-rated going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher; 
  • You have £1,270 cash funds to support yourself without relying on public funds unless you have been in the UK with permission for 12 months or more at the date of application;

Youth Mobility Scheme Visa

The Youth Mobility Scheme Visa allows young people from participating countries to live in the UK on a temporary basis for up to 2 years. The applicant does not need to be sponsored for this route and this route does not lead to settlement. 

An applicant has to be aged between 18 and 30 on the date of application and must be a citizen of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Iceland, Monaco or San Marino. Applicants who are either a British Overseas Citizen, British Overseas Territories Citizen or a British National (Overseas) are also eligible to apply. 

Applicants from Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea or India must be selected and issued with an invitation to apply to the Youth Mobility Scheme. Further guidance for Indian citizens will be announced soon. For more information on the ballot and the eligibility requirements, please refer to our recent post Second Ballot for 2022 Youth Mobility Scheme Opens Soon.

Start-up Visa

The Start-up Visa is for applicants who want to start a business in the UK for the first time. This route does not lead to settlement and the visa is valid for 2 years.

To be eligible for the Start-up Visa, you will need to have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body. You can access the list of endorsing bodies here. Your business idea must be innovative, viable and scalable. You will also need to show that you have met the English language requirement and are competent in English to at least CEFR Level B2. If applying for entry clearance or you have been in the UK with permission for less than 12 months, you must demonstrate that you have at least funds of £1,270 to support yourself. At the end of  2 years, you may be eligible to apply for leave to remain in the Innovator category.

Skilled Worker Visa

One of the popular routes we have seen is the switch from the Student Visa to the Skilled Worker Visa. We set out the requirements in our article here. Please note that you cannot switch if you are in the UK on a Short-term student visa.

When considering the requirements, you must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (‘CoS’) assigned by your sponsor. Your sponsor must have a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence and be on the Home Office register. The role you will be doing must be a genuine vacancy and at an appropriate skill level. You will also need to meet the financial requirement by showing that you have sufficient funds of at least £1,270 to support yourself without access to public funds. You can also meet this requirement if your sponsor is willing to confirm on the CoS that they will meet the maintenance costs up to the end of the first month of your employment. To be eligible, you need to be competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1. 

Temporary Work Routes

If you are applying for entry clearance, there are also various options available under the Temporary Work route. For example, the Temporary Work – Creative Worker Visa is for applicants coming to the UK for up to 12 months to undertake short-term work in the creative sector. 

Scale-up Visa

The Home Office has introduced the Scale-up Visa route to help businesses to recruit individuals with the skills to enable the business to grow. This route will open on 22 August 2022. This is a route to settlement. Do have a read of our recent post Calculating the Scale-up Visa Salary Requirement.

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance regarding visa applications to work in the UK, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


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