This visa was introduced as part of the Global Business Mobility (GBM) initiative, which includes five immigration routes aimed at helping overseas businesses establish a presence or transfer employees to the UK.
The Graduate Trainee visa is designed for overseas workers enrolled in a structured graduate training program that leads to senior management or specialised positions, and who require a work placement in the UK as part of their training.
This temporary work route has replaced the previous Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route.
Any successful applicants on this route will be able to come to the UK and take part in the graduate training program they applied for. However, unlike the previous Intra-Company route, they will not be permitted to engage in secondary employment. Instead, they may engage in voluntary work or pursue a course of study while in the UK.
If you’re not on a graduate training programme, you may still be able to work for your employer’s UK branch with a Senior or Specialist Worker visa.
To qualify for a Graduate Trainee visa, you must:
- be an existing employee of an organisation that’s been approved by the Home Office as a sponsor.
- have worked for your sponsor outside the UK for at least 3 months immediately before you apply.
- have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the work you will do in the UK
- do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
- be paid at least £24,220 per year
You cannot apply to change (‘switch’) to a Graduate Trainee visa from inside the UK.
Getting a certificate of sponsorship
Your employer - also known as your sponsor - will give you a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ with information about the work you will do in the UK. It’s an electronic record, not a paper document.
You’ll need the reference number from the certificate of sponsorship for your visa application. You must apply for your visa within 3 months of getting your certificate of sponsorship.
If your employer is not currently licensed to sponsor people to work in the UK, they can apply for a sponsor licence if they’re eligible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you need to have worked for your employer outside the UK?
You must have worked for your employer outside of the UK for 3 months immediately before the date you apply.
This means you cannot:
- extend your Graduate Trainee visa from inside the UK
- switch to a Graduate Trainee visa from inside the UK
Is my job role eligible?
Before you can find out if your job is eligible, you need to know its 4-digit occupation code. You can get this from your employer or your certificate of sponsorship.
When you know your occupation code, check the list of eligible occupations to see if it’s eligible for your visa type.
What are the salary requirements?
You must be paid at least £24,220 or 70% of the ‘going rate’ for your job - whichever is higher.
Each occupation code has its annual going rate. Check the going rate for your job in the going rates table.
If you work in healthcare or education
There are different salary rules if you work in some healthcare or education jobs. Your salary must be at least £24,220 or the full ‘going rate’ of your job, whichever is higher.
The going rates for these jobs are based on the national pay scales set by the relevant independent body, for example, the NHS
How much does it cost to apply?
When you apply for a Graduate Trainee visa, you’ll need to have enough money to:
- pay the £259 application fee
- pay the healthcare surcharge - this is usually £624 per year
- support yourself when you arrive in the UK - you’ll usually need to have at least £1,270 available (unless you’re exempt)
You’ll be told how much you need to pay when you apply.
How much is the Healthcare Surcharge?
You’ll have to pay the healthcare surcharge for each year of your stay - this is usually £624 per year. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.
How much money do I need to show I have?
You must have at least £1,270 in your bank account to show you can support yourself when you arrive in the UK.
You will need to have had the money available for at least 28 consecutive days. The end date of the 28 days must be within 31 days of the date you apply.
You’ll usually need to show proof of this when you apply, unless your employer can cover your costs during your first month in the UK, up to £1,270.
Your partner and children will also need to prove they can support themselves while they’re in the UK. Check how much they’ll need.
Read the guidance on financial evidence for more information about the money you need and how to prove it.
If your employer can support, you instead.
Your certificate of sponsorship must confirm this. Your employer will need to complete the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section on your certificate. This is under ‘Additional data’.
How long it takes to make a decision?
Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision within 3 weeks.
You’ll be contacted if your application takes longer, for example, because:
- your supporting documents need to be verified
- you need to attend an interview
- of your circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)
If you’ve applied through a visa application centre, find out if you can pay to get a faster decision - this depends on where you’re applying from.
Switch to this visa
You cannot apply to change (‘switch’) to a Graduate Trainee visa from inside the UK because you need to have worked for your employer overseas for 3 months immediately before you apply. You must leave the UK and apply for a Graduate Trainee visa from abroad.
Why choose UK Visas?
UK Visas is a leading visa and immigration adviser, specialising in the provision of services for businesses, education providers and individuals.
Our friendly team can manage all aspects of the visa process in an efficient and timely manner so that you can enjoy complete peace of mind.