Guide To The UK Post Study Work Visa
Part of the reasons for studying abroad for many students is the possibility of living and working in that country after graduation.
In the UK where international students’ contributions are highly valued, it’s understandable that the option to stay longer is a top priority for many.
This article will discuss post study work visa options in the UK as well as the application process.
What Is The UK Post Study Work Visa?
The UK post-study work visa is a type of visa that allows international students to stay in the UK after graduation for up to two years to work.
Post-study visa holders can work in any job they can find for the first two years after graduation, to eventually transition into a general work visa. The ability to stay and work in the UK for two years after graduation makes the UK an appealing destination for students looking to begin their international careers.
Who Is Eligible?
Any international student on a Tier 4 visa who enrolls at a UK institution is eligible to stay in the UK after graduation for work.
This is a continuation of rule changes that allowed PhDs to remain in the UK after graduation. The UK claims this is due to a desire to expand its STEM industry fields. Previously, Bachelor’s and Master’s degree holders had only four months to stay and look for work. That has been increased to two years under the new graduate visa rules.
You are also eligible if you are still in the UK, your current visa is a student visa from the United Kingdom, you completed your course in at least 12 months (or the full duration of the course if it was less than 12 months long), and your institution has informed the authorities that you have completed your course.
How Long Can You Stay?
A post study work visa is valid for two years. It will be valid for three years if you have a Ph.D. or other doctoral qualification. Your visa will be valid beginning from the day your application is approved.
Note that your Graduate visa cannot be extended. However, you may be able to switch to a different visa, such as a Skilled Worker visa.
How To Apply
You will need to apply for this visa online. When applying online, you will need to verify your identity and submit your documents. You should receive a decision on your visa within 8 weeks.
You are free to remain in the United Kingdom while you await a decision. Your spouse and children can also apply to stay in the UK if they are eligible.
When To Apply
You must apply before the expiration of your Student visa. You can apply once your education provider (university or college) has informed the Home Office that you have completed the course you were enrolled in with your Student or Tier 4 (General) student visa.
You are not required to wait until you have graduated or received a certificate. You must prove your identity and provide your documents as part of your application. If you require an appointment, your application may take longer. When you start your application, you’ll find out if you need one.
How Much Does It Cost?
The graduate visa costs £715. You will also need to pay a Healthcare Surcharge of £624 per year for each year you stay in the UK.
If you choose to work in the public sector, you may be eligible for a refund of your Healthcare Surcharge (returned to you). Remember that you will need to be able to support yourself while in the UK. Don’t forget to budget for things like rent, bills, and travel expenses. You can view the total cost here.
What Are The Required Documents?
When applying for a UK graduate visa, you will need the following documents:
- Your passport (or other valid travel documents)
- Your biometric residence permit, if applicable
- The reference number from your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from when you applied for your student visa.
If you cannot locate your CAS number, contact your educational provider. They will have documentation of it. You may also be required to provide:
- Proof of your relationship with any family members who are applying with you.
- A letter of approval from your scholarship/sponsorship provider if they have paid your course or living expenses in the previous 12 months.
What Happens When Your Post Study Work Visa Ends?
The post-study work visa allows you to look for any type of job and to stay in the UK for up to two years after graduation. When that period expires, if you want to stay in the UK for longer you must apply for a ‘general work visa’ (or skilled work visa’).
Your job must meet the visa requirements for a Tier 2 visa, also known as a ‘general work visa.’ That usually means you must be paid at least £30,000 per year, though this can vary depending on the job. The Tier 2 eligibility criteria can be found here.
Get career and educational articles and insights from our weekly newsletter.