A recent report has been published by the Higher Education Policy Institute analysing the Graduate route visa scheme. The Graduate Visa has come under scrutiny in recent times from certain sections of the media and politicians for the number of immigrants and their dependents arriving via this immigration route.


The research, which was published jointly with the Kaplan International Pathways and the National Union of Students sought to reveal the net benefits to the UK economy of the Graduate visa. This was in response to a rapid review of the Graduate Route Visa being conducted by the Migration Advisory Committee, which is due to be completed by 14th May 2024.


So, what benefits of the Graduate visa did they find?


Let’s take a look.


What is the Graduate visa?


A graduate visa gives you permission to stay in the UK for 2 years after you have studied an eligible course there. Those who have a PHD or other doctor qualification can stay for 3 years. You must also have successfully completed the course, which your education provider will inform the Home Office about. Find out more about the eligibility criteria here.


While the Graduate visa cannot be extended, it is possible to switch to a different visa, such as a Skilled Worker visa. However, due to the huge rise in the Skilled Worker visa salary threshold, this has suddenly become increasingly difficult for many graduates. You can learn more about the Skilled Worker Visa in our guide here.


Key findings from the report


The report, which was undertaken by the consultancy, London Economics, revealed a number of economic benefits to the UK economy. These include the following:


Number of Graduate Visa holders


  • The report found that there were an estimated 66,410 Graduate Route visa holders in the UK in the 2022/23 tax year. This was composed of a split between 56,460 international graduates being educated in UK higher education and 9,950 dependants overall.


  • Contrary to some reports within the UK, for every 10 Graduate Route visa holders, there were fewer than two dependants. This ratio will decline significantly in the future as a consequence of the increased restrictions on dependants of Graduate Visa holders.


  • In fact, following this change taking effect in January 2024, there has already been a decline of around 80 per cent in the number of dependants of new international students.


Contribution to UK economy


  • The presence of these Graduate Route visa holders in the UK is estimated to have contributed £588m during the 2022/2023 tax year, worth £10,410 per Graduate Visa holder. These figures don’t include the value that many would go on to contribute if they later transfer on to the Skilled Worker Visa route.


  • On the other hand, the total costs of public provision come to an estimated £517m (£9,160 per individual). As a net figure, this means that the net benefit to the UK economy of hosting Graduate Route visa holders works out at a total of £70m overall or (£1,240 per international graduate). This counters the view that the UK loses out financially by hosting Graduate Visa holders, even before the clampdown on Graduate Visa holder dependents.


  • The report adds that the financial benefits of the Graduate Visa to the UK are on course to increase. There are estimated to be over 350,000 Graduate Visa holders in the UK by April 2025, increasing the direct economic benefits by five times more than the first full year of the first year of the Graduate Visa. Due to the new rules on dependants, the costs are also set to fall significantly, adding an even greater net benefit to the UK economy.


At Lisa’s Law, we have a dedicated immigration department with experience in handling Graduate Visa Applications. Contact us today for advice or support.


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