Did you know that starting in 2020, international students who commenced their studies in the UK benefit from the new post-study work visa (PSW) specifically designed for graduates? The UK Post Study Work Visa popularly known as the Graduate Route in the UK offers international students the chance to remain in the country and pursue employment or seek job opportunities after completing their undergraduate, master’s, or PhD degrees. Under this program, undergraduate and master’s degree holders can stay for up to two years, while PhD graduates can stay for up to three years. In this article, we would be unveiling all you need to know about the UK Post Study Work Visa including how to apply, and requirements among others.
Why You Should Work in the UK
1. Employment Opportunities
The UK has a diverse and thriving job market, providing a wide range of employment opportunities across various sectors and industries. It is home to numerous multinational companies, startups, and renowned organizations, offering a wealth of career options.
2. Competitive Salaries
The UK offers competitive salaries, particularly in sectors such as finance, technology, engineering, and healthcare. Workers in these industries often enjoy higher earning potential and attractive compensation packages.
3. Skill Development and Career Growth
Working in the UK can provide access to excellent training programs, professional development opportunities, and a supportive work environment. The country’s emphasis on skills development and innovation allows individuals to enhance their expertise and progress in their careers.
4. Social Security and Employment Rights
The UK has a well-established social security system that provides benefits such as healthcare, pensions, and maternity/paternity leave. Additionally, employees in the UK are protected by robust employment rights, including fair wages, protection against discrimination, and safe working conditions.
5. Cultural Diversity and Global Exposure
The UK is known for its multicultural society and global outlook. Working in the country allows individuals to interact with people from various backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities, fostering a rich and diverse work environment.
About the UK Post Study Work Visa
The Graduate Route visa is widely utilized by numerous foreign students in the UK, particularly those from Nigeria, who wish to extend their stay in the country for a minimum of two years after completing their studies and explore employment prospects. Students who have obtained a doctoral degree are allowed to remain for three years. This presents a valuable opportunity for individuals seeking entry into the professional realm in the UK, as the Graduate Route does not require sponsorship. This convenience enables graduates to secure employment or search for jobs at various skill levels. During this period, students are also permitted to gain work experience by undertaking internships or engaging in freelance work within the country.
Bear in mind that there are no specific salary criteria or restrictions on the number of international students who can avail themselves of the opportunity to stay in the UK under the Graduate Route. Upon securing suitable employment in the UK, you will have the opportunity to transition to a skilled work route, allowing you to continue residing in the UK even after the completion of your two or three years under the Graduate Route.
UK Post Study Work Visa Eligibility Criteria
It is expedient to note that applicants must be physically present in the UK at the time of applying for the Graduate Route. The advantage is that there is no need to provide evidence of funds, nor is it necessary to demonstrate English language proficiency, as your UK university degree itself serves as proof of the latter. Additionally, students should have obtained the qualification specified on the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) associated with their Student visa or Tier 4 visa.
Thus, if you want to be eligible for a Graduate or PSW Visa, then you must meet the following criteria:
1. You must be in the UK.
2. You must have completed a bachelor’s, postgraduate, or other eligible degree from a recognized UK higher institution approved by the UK Home Office for a minimum duration while holding a Student visa or Tier 4 student visa.
3. You must possess a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa.
4. Your educational institution must have confirmed your course completion to the Home Office.
Other things you may need:
In certain situations, you may be required to submit the following documentation:
1. Evidence of your relationship with your partner or children if they are applying alongside you.
2. A letter from your scholarship or sponsorship provider endorsing your application if they have covered your course fees or living expenses within the past 12 months.
Also, the minimum duration of study requirements in the UK are as follows:
• If your course duration is longer than 12 months, you must have studied for at least 12 months.
• If the duration of your course is shorter than 12 months, your period of study must be equivalent to the duration of your course. For example, if your course is 10 months long, you must have studied in the UK for at least 10 months.
Eligibility related to COVID-19 (if you were unable to be in the UK due to COVID-19):
• If peradventure your student visa was valid for more than 12 months, any time spent outside the UK between the period of 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2022 can be counted towards your total duration of study in the UK.
• If your student visa was valid for 12 months or less, you may still apply for a graduate visa if you meet the following conditions:
1. Your course started before 21 June 2021, and you arrived in the UK on or before 27 September 2021 (on a student visa).
2. Your course commenced between the period of 21 June 2021 and 30 June 2022, and you arrived in the UK on or before 30 June 2022 (on a valid student visa).
To meet the eligibility criteria, applicants must have successfully completed a course that awards one of the following qualifications:
• A bachelor’s degree from a UK institution.
• A postgraduate degree, including a PhD or Master’s degree, from a UK institution.
• A Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) conversion course which may be recognized by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales.
• The Legal Practice Course (LPC) in England and Wales, the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or either a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland.
• The Bar Practice Course (BPTC) in England and Wales, oreither the Bar Course in Northern Ireland.
• A foundation program in either Medicine or Dentistry.
• Either a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE).
• A professional course which is required to study at the bachelor’s degree level or higher in a regulated profession with reserved activities which must also be governed by the UK law or a UK public authority.
The degree course completed by the applicant must match the one stated on their Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). Additionally, their sponsoring higher education provider must duly confirm that applicants have met this requirement.
UK Post Study Work Visa Application Guide
You will receive a decision on your application within 8 weeks after completing all the necessary formalities. During this time, applicants are permitted to remain in the UK. To apply for the Graduate Route visa, you need to follow these steps:
1. Begin your Application
Ensure that you submit your application for the Graduate Route before your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa expires. Once your education provider has notified the Home Office of your successful course completion, you can proceed with your application. To apply for the Graduate Work Visa, you need to create an account and complete the online application form on the UK’s visa and immigration government webpage. Fill out the online application form accurately and provide all the required information. Be prepared to provide details about your educational background, personal information, and immigration history.
2. Check your Eligibility
Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for the Post Study Work Visa as highlighted earlier in this article. This includes completing a qualifying degree from a recognized UK higher education institution and meeting the minimum duration of study requirements.
3. Upload the Required Documents
You will be provided with a list of documents to upload to your online application. You can scan or photograph the documents in PNG, JPG, JPEG, or PDF format. These typically include your passport, Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your educational institution, academic transcripts, English language proficiency proof (if applicable), and financial documents.
4. Pay the Necessary Fees
On the application form, applicants must pay both the healthcare surcharge and the application fee completely. These fees can be paid online using a debit or credit card.
5. Confirm your Identity
If you have a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), you can use the “UK Immigration: ID Check” app to download the scan of your BRP. You will need to provide your data and scan the BRP using the app. During the online application process, if you do not have a BRP, you will be required to provide your fingerprints and have your photograph taken.
If you have provided your fingerprints and photograph at a visa application centre, you will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). If you are applying from within the UK, your BRP will be sent to you by courier within seven to ten days after receiving the decision letter from the Home Office. The BRP serves as proof of your right to study, your identity, and your entitlement to public services or benefits.
6. Submit Additional Documents (if necessary)
You can submit any additional supporting documents either during the online application or at the UKVCAS appointment.
7. Await a Decision
After submitting your application, you will need to wait for the UK Home Office to process your application. The processing time can vary, but you can expect to receive a decision within a few weeks.
8. Receive your Visa
If your application is approved, you will receive your Post-Study Work visa in the form of a sticker on your passport or a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card, depending on your application.
UK Post Study Work Visa Fees
The application for the UK Graduate Work Visa entails the payment of the following fees:
Application fee£715 (€810)
Healthcare surcharge for two years£1248
Healthcare surcharge for three years£1,872
Frequently Asked Questions on UK Post Study Work Visa
• Is the university I graduate from important for the PSW visa application?
Typically, every graduate from any UK university is eligible for apost-study work visa, as long as the British government has recognized the institution as a trusted and licensed sponsor.
However, it’s important to note that this list of trusted institutions can be subject to change if a university fails to maintain a proven track record of adhering to immigration and visa checks. Therefore, if you are currently studying or planning to study in the UK, it is advisable to verify whether your university is confirmed on the list of trusted institutions.
• Do I need to get a sponsor to be eligible for the UK post-study work visa?
No, you do not need a sponsor to qualify for the post-study work visa. Unlike other visa types that often require an employer as a sponsor, in the case of the PSW visa, the university you graduate from serves as the sponsor, as long as it meets the qualification criteria. As an international graduate from a recognized UK university, you are eligible for a post-study work visa.
• Does the subject of study matter for the post-study work visa?
No, the post-study work visa is applicable to graduates from all academic disciplines. In 2019, the UK government relaxed visa rules for students graduating with higher-level degrees, such as Master’s or PhDs, in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). From 2020 onwards, this relaxation has been extended to include graduates from any degree program offered by trusted higher education providers.
It is important to note that you must complete a full degree program to be eligible for the post-study work visa. The new visa rules do not apply to those studying short courses, English language training courses, A-Levels, or the Baccalaureate.
The UK Post Study Work Visa is an exciting pathway for international students who seek to remain in the country and build a career. However, to get this visa, you need to meet all the eligibility criteria or you could face rejection. We have just shown you all you need to know about this visa and following our guidelines would give you a smooth experience.