Making the graduate route visa work for you

Posted on: 26 May 2023 by Aditi Gupta in Hints, tips and advice

The Graduate Route Visa is a great opportunity for international students to work and remain in the UK for an additional 2 years (or 3 years for doctoral students) after completion of their studies.

The Graduate Route Visa is a great opportunity for international students to work and remain in the UK for an additional 2 years (or 3 years for doctoral students) after completion of their studies.

As someone who is currently on this visa route, I have found it to be extremely flexible as it allowed me to for any type of job role - except as a professional sportsperson!. Without any minimum salary or skill restrictions. 

Potential issues with regards to the Graduate Route Visa

While the Graduate Route Visa offers a range of benefits for international students who are looking to build their careers in the UK, there might be situations where international students face obstacles.

A policy note published by HEPI and Kaplan has shown that 27% surveyed employers were unfamiliar with the Graduate Route Visa. Similarly, an AGCAS research shows employer resistance and lack of knowledge act as barriers for international students/graduates.

It is understandable that a sizeable number of UK employers do not possess adequate levels of knowledge about this visa route as it is a fairly new type of visa that was introduced only in 2021. Employers may also perceive hiring international student/graduate as being associated with heavy costs, sponsorship applications, too much paperwork and waiting time. However, the Graduate Route Visa is paid for by the international student/graduate which reduces cost and paperwork on the employer’s side.

Both the abovementioned cases of misperception or inadequate knowledge of the Graduate Route Visa could work unfavourably for international students. However, to make this visa route for yourself, the onus of clarifying your right to work in the UK under the Graduate Route Visa can sometimes fall on the international student/graduate.


Dealing with your potential employer’s misconceptions 

  1. Be informed: If you are looking to opt for the Graduate Route Visa after completion of your studies, it is essential that you are fully informed about the specifics of this visa route. In a case where a potential employer is unaware about it, your articulation of your right to work in the UK through the Graduate Route Visa can potentially make an enormous difference to your hiring situation.
  2. Be empathetic: Employers do not want any legal trouble and hiring an international student/graduate without complete information is a difficult position. Having a candid chat and understanding their level of knowledge about the Graduate Route Visa can help you spot gaps/misconceptions that you can address. For example, if the employer seems concerned about the cost of hiring an international graduate, you can clarify that the visa route is paid for by the candidate.
  3. Be an excellent candidate: If you are the ideal candidate that the organisation is looking for, you can capitalize on that. The employer may be open to hiring you if you make your profile is “too good to miss”. This would involve tailoring your application each time to match it to their job description. You can also highlight your unique skills as an international graduate - commercial awareness (of the UK and other job markets), diversity in thought and fresh perspectives, resilience, adaptability, multilingual abilities, and self-management skills. In essence, the prospect of hiring you should come across as impressive and worth the hassle!
  4. Be a good fit: Apart from focusing on what you have to offer, you want to demonstrate to your employer why you are a good fit in their organisation. This may involve explaining what about the employer makes you want to work for them - – do the company values really resonate with you or is it the kind of projects that they are involved in? A good cover letter can help you stand out and really demonstrate your interest and motivation to work for that employer organisation. 
  5. Be convincing: If the employer perceives a 2-year visa as short and a cause of concern, you can sell your 2-year tenure as a “try out” for the employer to assess your skill set and the value you bring to the organisation. If the employer views you as an employee worth investing in, then they can consider offering you a sponsorship under the Skilled Worker Visa route.


It is understandably a difficult conversation to have with a potential employer but probably the only way right now to increase your chances of moving ahead in the selection process.

To become a part of the solution, international students/graduates might need to take things in their control by clearly and confidently communicating their eligibility to work in the UK through the Graduate Route Visa.

Challenging discussions like such will help international students to tackle the current levels of employer unawareness of the Graduate Route Visa and hopefully secure a graduate role in the UK.  

Click here to find out more about the Graduate Route Visa and support available for International students.