Post-graduation opportunities are an important factor for international students when deciding where to study. Post-graduation employment can provide students with valuable experience and immediate income that can help offset some of the financial burdens they and their family undertook to pay for their education. Generally, students who are on a Tier 4 student visa can stay in the United Kingdom for up to four months after completing their studies. Those who have completed a Master’s degree can stay up to six months. For students who wish to stay in the UK to find meaningful employment beyond these extensions, there are multiple visa options that they may be eligible for.
Postgraduate Work Permit Pathway
Through the British Government’s Graduate Immigration Route, which became available in the summer of 2021, eligible international students will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK for up to two years after graduation. International students attending doctoral studies will be able to stay for three years. Through this pathway, students are not required to have secured employment to stay, they are able to apply in order to look for work.
- The Graduation Immigration Route is only available to international students who complete their degree-level courses.
- Students will be required to submit an application and pay the requisite fees and Immigration Health Surcharge.
- The Graduate Immigration Route cannot be extended.
- The Graduate Immigration Route does not count towards settlement.
- Students must have a valid Tier 4 Student visa at the time of their application.
For more information regarding the Graduation Immigration Route, fees, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, the Home Office provides a fact sheet.
Skilled Worker Visa
The Skilled Worker visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) visa, and allows students to work in the United Kingdom if they have been offered a skilled job. Students must have completed a UK Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or another postgraduate qualification. Students must be sponsored by an employer that is listed on the Register of Licensed Sponsors in order to be eligible for this visa. Currently, there are over 29,000 employers listed on the register. The sponsor will provide the student a certificate of sponsorship, which they will need to apply for their Skilled Worker visa.
Students must ensure that they apply for their Skilled Worker visa before their student visa expires. This visa will last for up to five years. After five years, the student will be able to apply for an extension, so long as they still meet the eligibility requirements. More information regarding the Skilled Worker visa can be found on the UK government’s website.
Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange Visa
The Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange visa replaced the Tier 5 Temporary Worker visa, and allows students to stay in the United Kingdom for up to 12 or 24 months (depending on the type of scheme being applied for).
This visa is more suitable for graduating students who are interested in a short period of work in the United Kingdom after their graduation. Students will be required to leave the United Kingdom once their visa expires. However, students will be able to apply for an extension, but this must be done before the current visa expires. For more information regarding this visa, please see the UK governments Temporary Work – Government Authorisedvisa page.
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