UK Graduate Trainee Visa

The United Kingdom has recently updated its popular business immigration routes and introduced UK Global Business Mobility visas. Now, foreign companies and specialists can benefit from new opportunities for professional development in one of the world’s business centres.

There are five UK Global Business Mobility visas:

  • UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa;
  • UK Graduate Trainee visa;
  • UK Expansion Worker visa;
  • UK Service Supplier visa;
  • UK Secondment Worker visa.

A UK Graduate Trainee visa is designed for foreign graduates who want to do an internship in a British company with the prospect of promotion. Note that an internship program must be for future managers and specialist workers.

If you do not want to become an intern after graduation, you can still relocate to the UK for work. For example, on a UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa.

UK Intra-Company Graduate Trainee Visa

A UK Graduate Trainee visa replaced a UK Intra-Company Graduate Trainee visa that was used for intra-company transfers of specialists and internship programs within a company.

How to Obtain UK Graduate Trainee Visa?

You can apply for a UK Graduate Trainee visa only outside the UK. It is impossible to switch to a UK Graduate Trainee visa from another visa category. However, switching from the UK Graduate Trainee visa is possible subject to agreement with your British employer. To save yourself some time, you can employ the services of an immigration advisor and focus on developing your career in the UK instead.

What Are Requirements for UK Graduate Trainee Visa Applicants?

  • Be older than 18 at the time of application;
  • Have been working for an overseas sponsor for at least three months;
  • Have a certificate of sponsorship that contains information about your future work in the UK;
  • Get a salary of more than £24,220 per year or at least 70% of the going rate for your occupation. You must be paid the highest of the two amounts;
  • Have enough money to support yourself and your family in the UK;
  • Be tested negative for tuberculosis (for citizens of some countries).

How Much Does It Cost To Get UK Graduate Trainee Visa?

An application fee for a UK Graduate Trainee visa is £259 for each applicant.

An applicant will also have to pay a health surcharge of £624 for each year of stay in the UK for themselves and their dependants. If the application is refused, the sum will be fully refunded.

An application fee is paid back only if the Home Office does not accept your application for some reason or you withdraw it yourself. If your application is processed and then refused, the fee will not be recovered. Not to lose money, it is recommended to contact immigration advisors.

There is one more important requirement. If you apply for a UK Graduate Trainee visa, you must have at least £1,270 deposited in your bank account for 31 days prior to visa application. It is the average sum that you need to have to support yourself in the UK till you get your first salary. If you want to add family members to your application, you need to pay additionally:

  • £285 for a spouse;
  • £315 for one child;
  • £200 for each additional child.

Sometimes, a sponsor values a foreign specialist so much that they commit to cover their living costs which must be indicated in the certificate of sponsorship.

How Long Is UK Graduate Trainee Visa Valid And Can It Be Extended?

A UK Graduate Trainee visa is usually issued for one year, but a sponsor can shorten its validity. After the visa expires, you will be able to legally stay in the UK for another 14 days. The Home Office limits the period of stay on a UK Graduate Trainee visa either by a year or by a visa validity indicated in the certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days. You can use this time to either get a promotion and switch to another visa category or leave the UK.

You cannot stay in the UK for more than five years in the last six years. You can spend those five years on one of the following visa categories or a combination of them:

  • UK Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa;
  • UK Intra-company Transfer visa;
  • UK Graduate Trainee visa;
  • UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa;
  • UK Expansion Worker visa;
  • UK Service Supplier visa;
  • UK Secondment Worker visa.

The only exception is a UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa that allows one to stay in the UK for nine out of the last ten years.

If you want to switch to another visa category after your UK Graduate Trainee visa expires, it’s better to discuss it with your sponsor and start preparations beforehand.

Is It Possible To Add Family Members To UK Graduate Trainee Visa Application?

The Home Office respects family ties and will not separate family members during long work periods in the UK. An applicant’s spouse or civil partner and their minor children can also come to the UK. If a child is older than 16, there will be some additional requirements that will described below. Note that if you add dependants to your application, it increases overall costs. You must have enough personal savings in your bank account to support yourself and your dependants without claiming public benefits.

Note that children who are born in the UK will automatically become British citizens only if one of their parents has a UK settled status or citizenship.

What Are Requirements For UK Graduate Trainee Visa Dependants?

If you want to add a spouse to your application, you need a marriage certificate and evidence that your relationship is genuine. The evidence can include photos, screenshots of messages, utility bills, bookings, and other similar pieces of evidence.

If you are unmarried or same-sex partners, you will have to prove that you have lived as a family for at least two years at the same address. Besides, you will also have to collect evidence to prove the genuineness of your relationship. The Home Office may sometimes request your friends or neighbours to confirm that you are a real family.

If you want to add a child who is younger than 16 years old to your visa application, you can do this by simply collecting the same documents for them as for yourself. Older children will be recognised as your dependants only if the Home Office makes sure that:

  • They are financially dependent on you;
  • They live with you (the only exception applies to full-time students);
  • They are single and have no children.

Bank statements, letters from educational institutions, and other documents can be used to prove your children’s dependence on you. For a full list of evidence you must provide and for more details, contact an immigration advisor.

How Long Does It Take To Get UK Graduate Trainee Visa?

You can apply for a UK Graduate Trainee visa up to three months before you are due to start working in the UK. As a rule, your application is processed within three weeks. You can accelerate the procedure for an additional fee. However, if the Home Office has questions for the applicant, the processing will be automatically prolonged. If required, you will be able to withdraw your application online. Immigration advisors will be able to help you do everything right if you contact them well in advance.

What Documents Are Required To Obtain UK Graduate Trainee Visa?

  • A valid ID
  • A certificate of sponsorship
  • Sponsor’s name and sponsorship licence number
  • Occupation code and information about your salary. You will also have to submit documents proving that you have been working in the sponsoring company outside the UK for at least three months (bank statements or payslips)
  • Bank statement to prove your ability to support yourself
  • A marriage certificate or evidence that your relationship with dependants is genuine and documents for children
  • Negative tuberculosis test results (subject to conditions)
  • Education documents (sometimes required by the Home Office)
  • ATAS certificate for those intending to study at the postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects

All the documents must either be in English or accompanied by professional English translations.

Opportunities And Restrictions On UK Graduate Trainee Visa

Outside your internship, you can do the following:

  • Undertake training;
  • Volunteer;
  • Travel inside and outside the UK;
  • Bring your family members with you.

On a UK Graduate Trainee visa, you cannot:

  • Claim benefits, allowances, or pensions;
  • Change jobs;
  • Have a side job;
  • Apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

The above list is not exhaustive. If your application is approved, you will get a full list of what you can and cannot do on a UK Graduate Trainee visa. To learn more, you can contact an immigration advisor or the Home Office.

What Is Certificate of Sponsorship and What Is It For?

Before applying for a UK Graduate Trainee visa, you need to obtain a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) from your British employer. To issue such a certificate, a company must have a valid sponsorship licence. A foreign specialist is allowed to work in the UK only if they get an electronic confirmation that they will be sponsored.

What Are Features Of UK Graduate Trainee Visa?

A UK Graduate Trainee visa cannot be extended. It means that you will have to either leave the UK after 12 months when your visa expires or switch to another visa category. The latter option will depend on your performance and the skills you demonstrate to your sponsor. If your sponsor understands that you are a skilled and promising specialist, they can offer you a permanent job on another business visa, for example, a UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa. In such serious career-related matters, it is important to collect all the required documents and apply to the Home Office in time. To avoid issues when switching visas, it might be a good idea to get professional legal assistance.

FAQ About UK Graduate Trainee Visa

Who can apply for a UK Graduate Trainee visa?

Any graduate who plans to do an internship in a UK company is eligible for a UK Graduate Trainee visa. There are a few requirements that must be met:

  • A graduate finds an internship in a British company that has a sponsorship licence. A sponsor then issues a certificate of sponsorship that is required to apply for a visa;
  • Internship has a defined duration of less than 12 months;
  • After the internship is over, the graduate can be employed by the company as a manager or specialist. If it does not happen, the intern leaves the country.

A consultation provided by an immigration advisor can help you avoid mistakes while collecting the documents and applying for the visa so that you can start building your career in the UK as quickly as possible.

Can I add dependants to my application for a UK Graduate Trainee visa?

The Home Office allows you to bring your family to the UK on a UK Graduate Trainee visa. You can add the following family members to your application:

  • Spouse;
  • Civil partner of any gender if your relationship is recognised in the UK;
  • Minor children and children older than 16 under certain conditions.

For more details, contact Imperial & Legal’s immigration advisors.

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