UK Graduate Visa

May 23

Why you might not qualify for a UK Graduate Visa


OTB Legal

Nine Common Pitfalls: Why You Might Not Qualify for a UK Graduate Visa

The UK graduate visa offers a valuable opportunity for international students to stay in the UK after their studies to work or look for work. Whether you have just graduated or faced hurdles such as re-taking a module, understanding the nuances of the graduate visa can help you plan your next steps effectively.

For international students in the UK, understanding the conditions that may disqualify them from obtaining a Graduate Visa is crucial for planning their future after completing their studies. In this blog, we highlight the eligibility criteria and the specific situations where a student might not qualify for a UK Graduate Visa, providing detailed insights to help you avoid potential pitfalls.

What is the UK Graduate Visa?

The Graduate visa allows international students who have completed an eligible course in the UK to stay for two years (three years for PhD graduates) to work or look for work at any skill level. However, the visa does not lead directly to settlement in the UK.

What are the Eligibility Criteria?

To qualify for a graduate visa, you must:

Have completed a course of study (bachelor's degree, master's degree, or PhD) at a UK higher education provider with a track record of compliance.

Hold a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time of application.

Have studied in the UK for a minimum period, depending on the length of your course.

It's crucial to note that you must apply for the UK Graduate Visa from within the UK. This is an essential step in the process.

What are the Common Pitfalls?

1. Non-compliance with Student Visa Requirements

One of the primary reasons for ineligibility for a Graduate Visa is failing to comply with the terms of the existing Student Visa. This includes:

Attendance Issues: Regular attendance is mandatory. Universities often report non-attendance to the Home Office, which can affect visa status.

Academic Performance: Failing to pass your course or make satisfactory progress can lead to disqualification.

Unauthorised Work: Students are typically allowed to work part-time during term and full-time during holidays. Exceeding these hours can lead to visa issues.

2. Failure to Complete the Qualification

To qualify for a Graduate Visa, the student must have successfully completed the course of study that was the basis for their Student Visa application. Not achieving the qualification, whether due to academic failure or dropping out, disqualifies applicants from applying.

3. Applying from Outside the UK

The application for a Graduate Visa must be made within the UK. If a student departs the UK after completing their studies and tries to apply from abroad, their application will be refused.

4. Incorrect Course Level

The Graduate Visa is a valuable opportunity, but choosing the right course is crucial. This is because the Graduate visa is only available to students who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or higher at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance. Completing a course that does not meet this level, such as specific diplomas or certificates, does not meet the eligibility criteria.

5. Expiry of Student Visa Before Application

Timing is critical when applying for a Graduate Visa. If a student's current visa expires before they apply for the Graduate Visa, they lose their eligibility. It is important to apply before the expiration date.

6. Previous Graduate Visa Holder

If a student has previously been granted a Graduate Visa, they cannot apply again. The UK Graduate Visa is a one-time opportunity meant to provide an additional stay to seek employment or work experience post-graduation.

7. Criminal Convictions

Having certain criminal convictions can lead to disqualification from obtaining a Graduate Visa. The Home Office conducts character and criminality checks, and past offences, mainly those serious or relevant to public safety issues, can prevent visa issuance.

8. Non-recognised Qualification or Institution 

The UK government must recognise the course and institution. Courses from non-recognised institutions or those that do not lead to a recognised qualification will not qualify a student for a Graduate Visa.

9. Delay in Graduation

Where a student has perhaps not completed a module, not successfully passed the course and is resitting exams, it is very likely that the student will not qualify for the Graduate visa.  This is because educational establishments CANNOT issue a new Confirmation of Acceptance for Study (CAS) for students to resit their exams.  In these cases, student leave is likely to expire before successful completion of the course and students are required to leave the UK before their leave expires.


The path to a UK Graduate Visa requires a keen understanding of the rules and criteria set by the Home Office. Awareness of these pitfalls is crucial for international students planning to extend their stay in the UK. The first port of call for advise will be the  university's international student team.

Good luck with your Exams! 

Loved this? Spread the word

Related posts

Self-sponsorship visas – The Loch Ness Monster of immigration law

Read More

Develop Brighton 2024: Conversations with Developers

Read More

The UK General Election Immigration Impacts

Read More

Long Residence Visa Rules

Read More
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}