Does the UK Government permit international students to work in the UK on completion of their university education in the country? What are the post-study work visa benefits available to international students? This article answers these and other questions that aspiring international students to the UK might have. 

Studying in UK gives students the opportunity to pursue an impeccable higher education. UK education consultants can help you to achieve your career goals. The UK Government has introduced a new policy for the post-study work visa for international students. The new rules under the Graduate Immigration Route favour international students; they allow them to continue staying in the UK, post their education and look for work. The new post-study work visa falls under the new points-based immigration system that came into effect in January 2021. In the new system, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and other professional graduates can work in the UK after their education and apply for permanent residency status. 

The Graduate Route to Post-Study Work Visa

Starting 01 July 2021, international students who complete either an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the UK will become eligible for a two-year work visa in the UK under the new Graduate Immigration Route. International students who complete a PhD will be entitled to a three-year work visa under the same provision.

Here are the key points:

  • The Graduate Route will be made available to those international students who are in the country on a valid student visa (Tier 4) at the time of application. The students should have completed a degree at the undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider (University or College) with a ‘track record of compliance’. According to the Home Office, ‘track record of compliance’ means that the Higher Education Provider must have a history of ‘immigration compliance and educational oversight’, among other requirements. 
  • Under the new policy, qualifying applicants will be allowed to stay and work in the UK or look for opportunities. The key advantage of this route is that students can be employed at any skill level and not necessarily in positions that commensurate to their qualification. Undergraduate and postgraduate students can work for up to two years, while PhD graduates are entitled to three years of work visa. 
  • Applicants will be allowed to switch jobs and get into a professional field of their choice at any time. However, they will be required to apply for a work visa (Tier 2) when they do that.
  • The new Graduate Route comes into effect from 01 July 2021; hence students who are graduating after the mentioned date and meet the required criteria will be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route. 
  • All students enrolled in a study programme will become eligible to apply for a post-study work visa under this scheme.
  • However, anyone applying for the Graduate Route will need to apply for a new visa while living in the UK. The visa application has to be submitted from the UK.
  • The visa fee is set at £700 with an additional annual charge of £624 for the Immigration Health Surcharge. 
  • While submitting the post-study work visa application, students will be required to mention the CAS number (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) allotted to them for the most recent Tier 4 visa (student visa). 

Information and FAQ's on UK Post-Study Work Visa

1. Will students need a sponsor to apply for a post-study work visa?

Students applying for a post-study work visa through the Graduate Route do not require a sponsor. The application will have to be submitted independent of an agency, which in this case would be a college or university. Student sponsors (colleges and universities) are not obligated to continue with the sponsorship duties once a student switches to the Graduate Route. However, as per the new rule, they will need to inform the Home Office that students have completed their course. 

2. What happens after the post-study work visa expires?

To continue staying in the UK, international students will need to find an appropriate job that meets the requirements before the post-study work visa expires. Various clauses need to be met; such as:

  • The job should be in a company that has the approval of the Home Office.
  • The job should pay the minimum salary specified for the role, even though the minimum threshold is £25,600. For example, if the standard pay for a particular position in a specific industry for a specific skill and education level is £35,000, then the £25,600 limit is not allowed. The job must pay what the job is worth. 
  • The employer must give a ‘certificate of sponsorship’.

3. Will the graduate route count towards a permanent settlement?

The answer to that is No. The graduate route is neither extendable nor does it count towards permanent settlement. One has to find suitable employment to be considered for permanent settlement. A work visa (Tier 2) is a prerequisite for permanent settlement through the Work Route. 

4. Do students who started the 2020-21 academic year in a UK University from their home country qualify for the scheme?

Students who were unable to travel to the UK for the 2020-21 academic year due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions will still be eligible to avail of the post-study work visa, provided they attended online classes. 

5. Do students who are completing the course in summer 2021 qualify?

Yes, students completing their course this summer can apply for the Graduate Route. However, to be eligible for the Graduate Route, students must arrive in the UK by 21 June 2021. 

6. What about students who enrolled in a one-year master’s programme in January 2021?

For their application to be approved, such students will need to arrive in the UK before 27 September 2021.

We hope you have a clear understanding of the UK post-study work visa benefits for international students. For more queries and guidance, visit Sage Education Services, one of the most reputed UK education consultants in Dubai.