Graduate route

Details on the Graduate route for Royal Holloway students

Graduate route

The Graduate Route also commonly known as the Post-Study Work Visa (PSW) is an unsponsored visa route, which means you do not need to have secured a job or found a sponsor (employer) before you apply.

Students who complete an Undergraduate or Masters programme will be granted a 2-year visa, while those completing a PhD will receive a 3-year visa where their application is accepted by the UKVI. Please note that you must actively apply for this visa, it is not automatically added to the end of your Student Visa.

To apply, students must:

  • be inside the UK when they submit their visa application
  • hold a valid Student visa
  • spend the relevant qualifying period in the UK (see below)
  • have successfully completed their course within the UK and received notification from the University that we have reported their successful completion to the UKVI (see below)


Relevant qualifying period

If your course is 12 months or less, you must have had held a Student visa and completed the full duration of your course in the UK.

If your course is more than 12 months, you must have held a Student visa and completed at least 12 months of your course in the UK.

Please note that students studying a 1 year Masters programme at Royal Holloway are considered to be studying a course of more than 12 months.

If you have been distance learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic then you may still be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route depending on whether you’ve been granted a Student Visa when you are able to travel to the UK. Please contact us to discuss your eligibility

Successful course completion and University reporting  

You must have successfully completed your course and received your final results before you are eligible to apply for the Graduate Route.

Dates on which results are released depend on your level, programme and entry point. Full details can be found here.

Once your results are released, the University is required to report your successful course completion to the UKVI. You must not submit your Graduate Route application until we have reported your successful course completion to the UKVI.

Our Student Administration Team at Royal Holloway will email you to confirm that we have made the report. If you apply before you receive their email your application will be delayed or even refused.

Our Student Administration Team aim to make the report and email you to confirm this within 5 working days of your final results being released.


Timeline of events and your window of opportunity to apply

It’s important that you understand exactly how and when to apply for the Graduate Route.

Our timeline of events, provides a visual aid to support the written information on this page.

Remember you must have received an email from our Student Administration Team before applying and you must be in the UK with a valid Student Visa at the point you apply.

Making a valid application for the Graduate Route

A valid application will require you to:

  • Complete the online application form here
  • Pay the £700 application fee
  • Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year
  • Either use the UKVI ID check app or enrol your biometrics at a UKVCAS centre

A valid application will require Royal Holloway to:

  • Report to the UKVI that you have successfully completed your course before you submit your visa application (see above)

You must provide the following supporting evidence with your application:

  • A valid passport
  • A copy of your current BRP (if applicable)
  • If you are currently, or have in the last 12 months, been receiving official financial sponsorship for example a scholarship or stipend from your government or an International Scholarship Agency then you must provide a letter from your sponsor confirming they are happy for you to apply to the Graduate Route after completing your studies. Money received from either the University in the form of a scholarship or from your parents does not count as official financial sponsorship and therefore you will not need to provide evidence of this

  • The CAS number that you used with your most recent Student Visa application. We’ll include this in the email that our Student Administration Team sends. You don’t need a new CAS number to apply.

You are not required to provide any financial evidence with your application, however please ensure that you have enough money to cover your living costs while you look for work.


Your dependants can apply with you under the Graduate Route, but only if they are currently in the UK as a dependant on your Student Visa.

Each dependant is also required to pay the visa application and IHS fee. You will need to provide evidence to prove your relationship and that you will live together during your time in the UK.

You can find more information about who qualifies as a dependant on UKCISA’s pages here.

Conditions of the Graduate Visa

As the holder of a Graduate Visa

You can:

  • work for any employer
  • work full-time, part-time, or on a zero-hour basis
  • undertake internships or work experience opportunities
  • be self-employed, freelance, consult, or contract out services
  • study, except study with an education provider which is a Student sponsor (like Royal Holloway and most Universities in the UK), and which would meet the approved qualification and level of study requirements of the Student Visa. This means if you wish to begin a new full-time course at Royal Holloway then you would need a new Student visa

The UKVI recently changed its rules to state that once you have submitted a valid application (see above) you will be able to work under the conditions of the Graduate Route visa while the application is being processed  i.e. you don’t need to have received a decision on the application to take advantage of these conditions.

You cannot:

  • work as a professional sportsperson or coach
  • receive public funds, for example benefits

Remember that the Graduate Route visa is a one time offer. It cannot be extended beyond the initial 2 or 3 year period it is granted for and you cannot apply for it again if you later complete another course of studies in the UK. You can however, switch onto other visa routes while you hold it for example the Skilled Worker Route.

Frequently asked questions

Will I be eligible to apply for the Graduate Visa if I made a change to my course including adding or removing a placement year?

You must normally have completed the same course for which your CAS was assigned.

However, there are some exceptions and you will still be eligible to be issued the visa if any of the below apply (and you meet all other requirements)

  • your CAS was assigned for an integrated programme and you completed the lower level part of that programme (i.e. CAS assigned for MSci, switched to BSc and completed successfully)
  • you were allowed to switch to a different course without applying for new Tier 4/Student permission
  • the university changed the name of your course without changing the content
  • you added or removed a work placement/year in industry/study abroad year
  • you were working as a Students' Union Sabbatical Officer (please contact International Advice for further guidance in this instance)

Can I travel outside the UK after my course end date or during the application period?

You can use your current Student visa to travel outside the UK after your course end date (as listed on your CAS). However, you must return to the UK to submit the application before your Student visa expires.

The only exception to this is where you are completing your studies earlier than the end date on your original CAS/visa. For example, if you originally enrolled on a course with a placement year/year in industry but later decided not to do the placement. Students who complete their course earlier than their original end date will be reported to the UKVI as early finishers. The UKVI will then take steps to curtail (cancel) your current visa and you will no longer be able to use it to re-enter the UK. Therefore, we strongly advise that any student who is an early finisher and wishes to move onto the Graduate Route does not to travel after they complete their course and instead waits until they are granted their new Graduate Route visa before leaving the UK.

For all students, once you have submitted your application you should not travel until you have received a decision. Leaving the UK while you have a pending visa application will result in that application being automatically cancelled.

Will submitting Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) or re-siting/repeating modules impact my eligibility for the Graduate Route?

Students must be have received their final results before their current Student Visa expires in order to be eligible for the Graduate Route (as well as meeting all other criteria as detailed above). If submitting an ECs or resitting/repeating modules means that you will not receive your final marks before your current visa expires then you will not be eligible for the Graduate Route.

Where your results date comes after your visa expiry date, Royal Holloway is only able to issue a new CAS for you to extend your visa if there is a genuine study reason to do so and where we can continue to meet our responsibilities as a Student Visa sponsor. Royal Holloway is not able to issue new CAS for the sole purpose of you making a Student Visa application so that you can become eligible for the Graduate Route.


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