Stay in the UK with the Graduate Visa

The Post Study Work Visa was abandoned in 2012, but the good news is that in Summer 2021 it came back! The new Graduate Visa for the UK gives international students completing a Bachelors, Masters, PhD or other Doctoral degree the opportunity to stay on and look for work after their degree.

Here we break down everything you need to know.

Will I be eligible?

The Graduate Visa is open to anyone who has successfully completed their degree course and is still in the UK on their Student Visa. It is also open to partners and children if they are with you as ‘dependants’ on your Student Visa.

You can check if your course is eligible and for how long you need to have studied on the UK Government’s webpages.

What does it give me?

The visa gives you permission to stay in the UK with the Graduate Visa for at least two years after successfully completing a Masters course. The news is even better if you have completed a PhD or Doctorate: You can stay for three years.

The visa starts from the day it is approved. You will hear within eight weeks of applying, during which time you can remain in the UK.

When should I apply?

You can apply as soon as you have been told you have successfully completed your course; you need to apply before your Student Visa expires.

How much does it cost?

The application fee is usually £700. You’ll also need to pay a healthcare surcharge of £624 for each year you are in the UK. If you work in public sector healthcare, however, check if you’re eligible to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa instead. You will not be required to pay the healthcare surcharge.

Your application fee will also be reduced by £55 if you are from one of the eligible European countries.

Do I need to have a job secured?

No. The visa gives you a good amount of flexibility. You could be looking for work, have a voluntary job or be self-employed, for example.

There are also no issues if you want to travel abroad and then return to the UK. The main thing you can’t do is apply for benefits.

What happens once the visa has ended?

You can not extend the visa, however dependent on the role you secure, you may be able to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa. Eligibility is dependent on your role and the ‘going rate’ for this kind of work.

Is there anything else I need to consider?

Successfully completing a degree doesn’t guarantee you graduate-level employment. In addition to the cost of applying for the visa and healthcare surcharge, you’ll need to consider your cost of living and likely job options in the area you are intending on living.

If you’re hoping to stay in the UK long-term, your career goals will need to align with the job roles which enable a Skilled Worker Visa. It’s also worth checking if there are any other visas which may enable you to extend your stay further.

How do I apply?

In order to apply you are going to need your passport or other travel document showing your nationality and identity. You'll also need your biometric residence permit (if given one when you applied for your Student Visa); and your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number.

You can apply online on the UK Government’s website.