In September of 2019, the UK government announced a new post-study work visa for international students graduating in a UK university. The visa comes seven years after its predecessor was discontinued.
This new immigration policy is officially known as the Graduate Immigration Route and will allow international students graduating in the summer of 2021 or later to remain in the UK for an additional two years.
During those two years, graduates will be allowed to work or look for work in the UK. Once they find a job, they can apply for a work visa and begin their settlement journey.
What Are the Requirements for the Graduate Immigration Route in UK?
The main requirements for obtaining a UK post-study work visa include:
- You must be graduating in the summer of 2021 or afterwards. This means all students from the 2020/2021 academic year, as well as those on two-year courses which began in 2019, will be able to benefit from the visa.
- You must be graduating from an undergraduate level program or higher.
- You must have a track record of compliance.
- You must have a valid Tier 4 student visa at the time of application.
- You must have a full degree – not from a short-term course, language course, etc.
- You must have a degree from one of the licensed visa sponsor universities.
How to Apply for a UK Post Study Work Visa?
Although there are still no official guidelines for the application process, if you intend to apply for the UK Post Study Visa in the future, you have to:
- Fulfil all the requirements, as detailed above.
- Submit an application before your Tier 4 visa expires.
- Submit a new application to the UK Home Office, including payment of all the relevant application fees as well as an Immigration Health Surcharge. The fees for the Graduate Immigration Route will be disclosed in the meantime.
You will likely not be able to start an application until 2021 when the date of your graduation nears. In the meantime, you should check with the UK Home Office for the latest developments and updates regarding the post-study visa application.
When Will the UK Post Study Work Visa Be Implemented?
The Graduate Immigration Route is expected to come into function starting from the summer of 2021. So, students graduating in 2020 won’t be able to apply for it.
Because the new visa policy has yet to be implemented, there are still no detailed guidelines and requirements.
Can I Still Get a UK Post Study Work Visa If I Was Distance Learning Due to Covid-19?
Yes, students who were forced to undergo distance learning or blended learning during the Covid-19 pandemic will be able to make use of the post-study work visa provided they are back in the UK by 6 April 2021. They have to spend at least one semester in the UK.
So, to get the UK post-study work visa despite distance learning, you have to:
- Return to the UK before 6 April 2021
- Finish your final semester in the UK.
- Have a valid Tier 4 student visa
- Meet all the other eligibility criteria for the new graduate visa
The new temporary concession was announced in a new Covid-19 guide by the UK Home Office published in June 2020.
Should the University Sponsor the Graduates for a Post-Study Visa?
No, applicants for UK’s post-study work visa do not need a sponsor for the two-year period they are looking for a job. Once they have found employment, their employer will serve as their sponsor.
Can I Apply for the Post Study Work Visa If I Am Already a Student?
If you are a current student in the UK, you can only make use of the Graduate Immigration Route if you will graduate in summer of 2021. If you graduate before then, and your Tier 4 student visa expires, unfortunately, you cannot apply for the post-study work visa.
Can I Settle in the UK with the Post Study Work Visa?
No, the post-study work visa (Graduate Immigration Route) will not count towards residency or settlement in the UK. You can only use this visa to find a job and get a UK work visa, which does count towards your residency and settlement.
See the types of UK work visas:
Can You Extend a Post Study Work Visa?
No, you cannot. The post-study work visa is only issued for a maximum of two years. If during that time, you have not found a job and applied for a skilled work visa, then you cannot extend the post-study work visa further.
Can You Have Dependents With a Post Study Work Visa?
Although the entire regulations of the post-study visa are still not known, dependents will likely not be able to apply at the same time as the main visa holder. The exception is if the dependents are already in the UK under a Tier 4 Dependent Visa.
Will EU Citizens Need a Post-Study Visa After Brexit?
Until the end of 2020, the UK is still on the Brexit transitional phase, so EU citizens are still eligible to work and study in the UK without a visa.
Starting from January 2021, however, the rules may change so that EU nationals are treated equally as those from non-EU countries. As such, if EU citizens will have to apply for a Tier 4 visa to pursue higher education studies in the UK, they’ll have to apply for the post-study visa as well.
EU citizens who intend to continue living in the UK after Brexit have until June 30, 2021, to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.
Reasons Behind the New UK Post Study Work Visa
The UK’s new post-study work visa (the Graduate Immigration Route) is an attempt on the British government’s side to “attract the best and brightest” of international students, according to Home Secretary Priti Patel.
The new visa supports the UK government’s International Education Strategy, which aims to reach up to 600,000 international higher education students by the year 2030 and boost the education exports to £35 billion.