The UK Graduate Trainee Visa: the Eligibility Requirements

This article is part of the ‘Global Business Mobility’ series, which provides a detailed summary of the UK Graduate Trainee Visa route.

There are 2 parts, which cover the following topics:

Part 1:

What is the Purpose of the UK Graduate Trainee Visa ?

When Can You Apply?

3 Requirements to Satisfy

The Validity Requirements

The Suitability Requirements

Part 2:

The Eligibility Requirements

Points-Based Requirements

Non-Points-Based Requirements

The Decision


This is part 2. You can jump to part 1 HERE.


The Eligibility Requirements

The UK Graduate Trainee Visa application is a points-based system application. There are point-based and non-point-based requirements.


Points-Based Requirements

You’ll need to score all 60 points from the table below:

Points requirements Relevant rules Points
Sponsorship SNR 5.1. to SNR 5.9. 20
Job at an appropriate skill level SNR 6.1. to SNR 6.7. 20
Salary at the required level SNR 7.1. to SNR 9.3. 20



The Sponsorship requirement consists of 3 elements:

  1. a certificate of sponsorship
  2. the sponsor
  3. genuineness

A Certificate of Sponsorship

The UK Graduate Trainee Visa: the Eligibility Requirements
The UK Graduate Trainee Visa: the Eligibility Requirements

You can only use a certificate of sponsorship once. At the date of application, it has to be valid, not withdrawn by the Sponsor and not cancelled by the Home Office. Also, your certificate of sponsorship should confirm the following details:

  1. your name
  2. that your Sponsor invited you to work as a Graduate Trainee
  3. the details of your job
  4. salary and any allowances your Sponsor is offering you
  5. PAYE details if HM Revenue and Customs requires income tax and national insurance for the Sponsored job to be paid via PAYE
  6. the start date (cannot be more than 3 months after the date of application)
  7. you have worked for the sponsor group for a continuous period of at least 3 months
  8. whether Appendix ATAS applies, and if it does – you’ll need to submit the ATAS certificate to confirm this.

The Sponsor

Your Sponsor needs to be A-rated, registered, licensed and authorised by the Home Office to sponsor a Graduate Trainee.


The decision maker will be undertaking checks to ensure that your job exists, is not a sham position, and has not been created to obtain a visa.

Additionally, you’ll need to meet the 3rd party rules. You’ll need to prove that you are not being sponsors to:

  1. the hire of your services to a third party to fill a position with that party, whether temporary or permanent; or
  2. contract work to undertake an ongoing routine role or to provide an ongoing routine service for a third party, regardless of the nature or length of any arrangement between the sponsor and the 3rd

20 Points for Job at Appropriate Skill Level for the UK Graduate Trainee Visa

Your job should have a unique code listed in Appendix Skilled Occupations and be eligible for the Global Business Mobility route.

The Most Appropriate Occupation Code

It is of crucial importance that the Sponsor chooses the most appropriate occupation code for the application.

The decision maker will refuse the application if they have ground to believe that:

  1. the most appropriate occupation code is not eligible under the Global Business Mobility routes; or
  2. the most appropriate occupation code has a higher going rate than the proposed salary.

When making such an assessment, the decision maker will consider the following factors:

(a) whether the Sponsor has shown a genuine need for the job as described; and

(b) whether you have the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed to do the job as described; and

(c) the Sponsor’s history of compliance with the immigration system including, but not limited to, paying its sponsored workers appropriately; and

(d) any additional information from the Sponsor.


 Salary Considerations for the UK Graduate Trainee Visa (20 Points for)

General Salary Requirement

You Sponsor will need to pay you at least £23,100 or 70% of the ‘going rate’ for your job – whichever is higher.

Each occupation code has its annual going rate. You can check the going rate for your job HERE.

If You Work in Healthcare or Education

Your salary will need to be at least £23,100 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.

What Can be Included in Your Salary

As part of your salary package, you can receive various bonuses. Sadly, in the majority of cases, the decision maker will not accept them.

They’ll only include the following:

  1. your guaranteed basic gross pay (before income tax and including employee pension and national insurance contributions); and
  2. any allowances which are guaranteed to be paid for the duration of your employment in the UK (e.g. London weighting) or are paid as a mobility premium or to cover the additional cost of living in the UK.

 London Weighting

London weighting is a special allowance that employers pay to people working in certain professions. For example, to PhD students, civil servants, police, teachers, airline employees, and security officers in London (or near London).

London weighting was introduced to help these employees with the cost of living in London. As statistically, it is higher than that of the rest of the UK. It was introduced to encourage key workers to stay in London.

Accommodation Allowances

Suppose your Sponsor agreed to pay you allowances solely for the purpose of accommodation. In that case, they will only be taken into account up to a value of 40% of the total salary package.

Which Allowances and Benefits will NOT be Included

  • flexible working where the nature of the job means that hours fluctuate and pay cannot be guaranteed; or
  • additional pay such as shift, overtime or bonus pay, whether or not it is guaranteed; or
  • employer pension and national insurance contributions; or
  • in-kind benefits, such as equity shares, health insurance, school or university fees, company cars or food; or
  • one-off payments, such as ‘golden hellos’; or
  • any payments relating to immigration costs, such as the fee or Immigration Health Charge; or
  • payments to cover business expenses, including (but not limited to) travel to and from the applicant’s country of residence, equipment, clothing, travel or subsistence.

Maximum Number of Hours

If your contract states that you intend to work more than 48 hours a week, only the salary for the first 48 hours a week will be considered towards the general salary requirement.

For example, you intend to work 60 hours a week for £15 per hour. Your contract states that your annual salary will be £46,800 (£15 x 60 x 52). However, your application will be refused because the decision maker will adjust your working hours to 48 hours a week. For the purposes of the application, you’ll only be getting £37,440 (£15 x 48 x 52) per year.

 The Tricky Bit

The going rate is the minimum salary a person should expect to receive if they are employed. For the UK Graduate Trainee Visa, it has to be at least 70%.

The tricky bit to remember here is that the decision maker will include your full weekly hours when checking your salary against the going rate, even if you work more than 48 hours a week.

They do so using this formula:

0.7 x (70% of the going rate for the occupation code stated in Table 1 of Appendix Skilled Occupations) x (the number of weekly working hours stated by the sponsor ÷ 39)


For example:

 Gwen intends to work for the NHS 60 hours a week in an occupation code with a 100% going rate of £39.000. Her annual salary will be £33,600. At first glance, you may think that this salary is OK if we include only 48 hours into the calculations:

 ((0.7 x £39,000) x 48) ÷ 39  = £33,600


Let me explain this formula:

0.7 = 70% going rate to meet the Graduate Trainee going rate requirements

£39,000 = 100% going rate for the occupation

48 = 48 hours a week: maximum amount of working hours for the general salary requirement

39 = 39 hours a (all Appendix Skilled Occupations going rates are based on a 39-hour work week


However, this is not how the decision maker will be calculating Gwen’s salary to check if it meets the 70% going rate requirement. This is because they’ll use full weekly hours when checking Gwen’s salary against the going rate, even if she intends to work more than 48 hours a week:

                    (0.7 x £39,000 x 60 ÷ 39) = £42,000

 So, Gwen’s Sponsor needs to pay her at least £42,000per year to meet the going rate requirement. Therefore, the going rate requirement for Gwen’s current application is not met.


Non-Points-Based Requirements for the UK Graduate Trainee Visa

 There are two non-points-based requirements:

  1. Financial requirement
  2. Maximum length of assignments requirement

The Financial Requirement for the UK Graduate Trainee Visa

You will meet the financial requirement automatically and don’t need to provide any proof of your funds if you have been in the UK with a valid visa for 12 months or more. You’ll meet the requirement if you’re a-rated Sponsor agrees to cover your costs of living during the first month in the UK. If so, they’ll need to include this information in the Certificate of Sponsorship.

In all other cases, you’ll need to prove that at the date of application, you had at least £1,270 in your bank account for at least 28 consecutive days.

Maximum Length of Assignments

The maximum total stay allowed for the UK Graduate Trainee Visa is either:

  • 12 months; or
  • the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days

whichever is shorter.

The decision maker will include any time you spent in the UK on one of the following immigration categories:

  • Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa
  • Intra-company Transfer visa
  • Graduate Trainee visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Secondment Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Graduate Trainee visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Service Supplier visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • UK Expansion Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)


The Decision

If you scored 60 points and met all non-point-based requirements, you’ll get your UK Graduate Trainee Visa.


Legal Remedies

If the decision is unfavourable, you’ll have no right of appeal. However, you can apply for Administrative Review.



What You Can Do:

You can:

  • work only for the Sponsor named in our Certificate of Sponsorship
  • study
  • invite your spouse and children (under 18) to join you in the UK
  • volunteer
  • travel abroad and return to the UK

What You Cannot Do:

You cannot:

  • claim benefits (some exceptions apply)
  • change jobs or do a second job
  • settle (apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK)


You can read part 1 HERE.

The UK Graduate Trainee Visa: the Eligibility Requirements