The Graduate Trainee visa is one of the global business mobility routes and is designed to allow foreign workers to travel to the UK branch of their overseas employer as part of a graduate management or specialist training program.
What is a Graduate Trainee Visa?
Following a revamp of the UK visa system, the Graduate Trainee Visa replaces the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee Visa and is part of the Global Business Mobility Visa Scheme. It is hoped that the new Graduate Trainee visa will boost skills in the UK.
The new visa allows foreign workers employed by overseas companies to come to the UK to take part in specialist graduate training programs. Applicants for the Graduate Trainee visa route must be employed to work at their UK-based company’s business and must be employed in a managerial or specialist role.
Are you eligible for the UK Graduate Trainee Visa?
To qualify for the graduate trainee visa route you must meet a number of conditions otherwise your visa application will be rejected under immigration regulations.
Before applying you must ensure:
- You are an existing employee of a foreign organization or company and have worked for your employee for at least three months
- The company you work for must be a Home Office approved sponsor and be able to provide a certificate of sponsorship detailing the role and appropriate occupation code
- You must work for your overseas employer in a senior management or specialist role. Your job must be on the list of eligible occupations and must be authentic work
- Once you arrive in the UK, you will be enrolled in a specialist graduate training programme
Additionally, you must ensure that you meet the financial requirements for the graduate internship path:
- You must be paid at least £23,100 per annum (or 70% of the current accepted rate for the role) – details of salary levels can be found on the Home Office website.
- You must have access to sufficient cash funds or personal savings of at least £1,270 to fund your first month’s stay in the UK (at least £1,270)
How to apply for the Graduate Trainee Visa process?
You can apply for the graduate trainee visa online and you need to ensure you do this at least three months before you plan to come to the UK to start your graduate training course. Start dates must be included in the certificate of sponsorship provided by your sponsor.
In addition to the application form you will need to provide a number of supporting documents and a number of associated fees as part of the visa application process
You will need biometric information in the form of fingerprints and a photograph. This can be done at your nearest visa application center or you can use the official UK Immigration: ID Check app to provide the relevant information.
Timelines for applying for a graduate intern visa
It may take around three weeks to get a response on your graduate trainee visa application if you are applying from outside the UK.
If you are switching from an existing UK visa to a Graduate Trainee Visa and are applying from the UK, it may take up to 8 weeks for your application to be processed.
Please remember to ensure you provide the Home Office with up-to-date contact details when you submit your application to avoid unnecessary delays.
What documents do I need to apply for a graduate trainee visa?
As part of your application for the Graduate Trainee path you will need to submit supporting documentation. All documents must be originals and not copies. The documents must also be in English or Welsh – if they are not – then you will need to provide certified translated copies with your application.
You must ensure that you provide the following along with your graduate trainee visa application:
- A valid passport or other valid travel document proving your identity and nationality
- A valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) reference number issued by an employer with a sponsor license
- Any evidence documenting your job title and annual salary: This can be an employment contract
- The code of the eligible work occupation (can be found in the list of eligible occupations)
- Proof of your employer and its sponsor’s license number
- Financial documents showing that you have access to the correct level of funds to support you when you arrive in the UK – these can be in the form of bank statements or a savings book
- Evidence that you have worked for your employer outside the UK for at least three months before submitting your visa application
- Details of the type of graduate training program you will attend during your time in the UK as a graduate trainee visa holder
- A valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate – you will only need this if your role involves research on a sensitive topic at least at PhD level
- A negative tuberculosis test result (only needed if you are applying from a country where it is required) and you will need to include your valid tuberculosis certificate.
Also, if you plan to bring any dependents to the UK, you will need to make sure you provide evidence of their relationship to you – this could be a marriage or birth certificate.
How long is the Graduate Trainee visa valid?
With the Graduate Trainee visa, you can stay in the UK for up to 12 months or the time specified on your Certificate of Sponsorship.
Visa rules mean you are not allowed to extend your visa during your time in the UK, but you can return to your home country and apply for another Graduate Trainee visa in the future.
The immigration system rules allow foreign nationals to stay in the UK for a maximum total period of five years in any six-year period on the following UK visas:
- Intra-company Graduate Trainee Visa (now expired)
- Intra-company transfer visa (now expired)
- and/or any UK visa under the global business mobility routes
- Graduate Trainee Visa
- Visa for posted worker
- Senior or skilled worker visa
- Service provider visa
- Expanding Worker Visa in the UK
What does the Graduate Trainee visa allow?
If you come to the UK on a Graduate Trainee visa you are allowed to do the following during your stay in the country:
- Work for your sponsor in the UK in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship, carrying out the role permitted by the most appropriate occupational code
- Travel in and out of the UK
- Sponsor all family members eligible for dependent visas
However, while you are in the UK on a Graduate Trainee visa you are not allowed to do any of the following:
- Apply for or access public funds or a state pension
- Changing jobs
- Being employed in a second job
- Apply for indefinite residence permit status
How much does it cost to apply for a graduate trainee visa?
Visa applicants will need to pay the following fees for a Graduate Trainee Visa:
- Visa application fee: £259
- Immigration Health Surcharge: Currently stands at £624 per year
If you have a dependent coming with you to the UK, you will also need to cover the cost of applying for your partner or child.
You will also need to ensure that you meet the financial requirements of the Graduate Trainee Visa. This means you will need to have at least £1,260 in your bank account for at least 28 consecutive days within 31 days of submitting your Graduate Trainee Visa application.
How long can I stay in the UK on a Graduate Trainee Visa?
A graduate trainee visa has a limit of 12 months or whatever the end date is indicated on the certificate of sponsorship. It is not possible to extend your Graduate Trainee visa while you are in the UK.
How long does the graduate trainee visa application process take?
Once you have applied for the Graduate Trainee Visa, you will usually receive a visa decision within three weeks if you are applying from outside the UK and within eight weeks if you already live in the UK.
Can I bring my partner and children to the UK on a Graduate Trainee Visa?
Your partner and children can apply to join you or to remain in the UK as your dependents if they qualify.
Dependent family members include:
- husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
- children under the age of 18, including children born in the UK during the visa holder’s stay in the UK
- children over the age of 18 living in the UK who are dependents of the skilled worker visa holder