The United Kingdom has long been an attractive destination for international students seeking a world-class education. After graduation, many students wish to extend their stay to gain valuable work experience in the country. To cater to this demand, the UK government introduced the Graduate Visa – a post-study work visa that allows international students to stay and work in the UK for up to two years after completing their studies. In this blog post, we will explore the ins and outs of the UK Graduate Visa, covering eligibility criteria, application process, costs, and more.
- What is the UK Graduate Visa?
The UK Graduate Visa, also known as the Post-Study Work Visa, is a new immigration route introduced in July 2021. It is designed to enable international students who have successfully completed an eligible course at a UK higher education institution to stay in the country and seek employment for up to two years (or three years for doctoral students). This visa aims to retain talented graduates and allow them to gain work experience in the UK, contributing to the country’s economic growth.
- Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for the UK Graduate Visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Have completed an eligible course at a UK higher education provider with a track record of compliance.
- Possess a valid Tier 4 (General) student visa or Student visa at the time of application.
- Have successfully completed a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or other eligible courses, such as certain law, business, or teaching qualifications.
- Submit the visa application within the UK.
- Applicants must not have previously held a Graduate Visa, a Post-Study Work Visa, or an extension under the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
Please note that there is no minimum salary requirement or sponsorship needed from an employer for this visa.
- Application Process
The application process for the Graduate Visa is as follows:
- Create an account on the UK Home Office’s online application system.
- Fill out the online application form, providing accurate and up-to-date information about your personal details, course of study, and immigration history.
- Pay the visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
- Provide your biometric information (fingerprints and photographs) at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre.
- Upload the necessary supporting documents, such as your passport, evidence of qualification, and evidence of your Student or Tier 4 visa.
Processing times may vary, but most applications are processed within eight weeks.
The costs associated with the Graduate Visa include:
- Visa application fee: £700
- Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS): £624 per year
Please note that these costs are subject to change and may be updated by the UK government.
- Working in the UK with a Graduate Visa
With a Graduate Visa, you can work in most jobs, including full-time, part-time, or temporary positions. You can also work as a self-employed professional or start your own business, as long as your activities do not constitute a permanent business establishment in the UK.
However, there are some restrictions on the type of work you can do:
- You cannot work as a professional sportsperson or coach.
- You are not allowed to work as a doctor or dentist in training, unless you are undertaking a supervised work placement as part of your course.
- Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa
If you find a suitable job and meet the requirements for a Skilled Worker Visa, you can apply to switch from a Graduate Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa while still in the UK. This will allow you to continue working in the country beyond the duration of your Graduate Visa