There are lots of options available to international students who want to stay and work in the UK after their studies.
If you’re considering staying in the UK after your studies, you may need to apply for a separate visa to your student visa. You can check whether you need a visa at UK Visas & Immigration.
The Graduate Route
From 1 July 2021, international students who have successfully completed an undergraduate or master’s degree will be able to benefit from two years’ work experience in the UK upon graduation, through the new Graduate Route. Students who complete their PhD will be able to stay for three years.
Here is everything you need to know:
- The Graduate Route will be available to international students who have a valid student visa at the time of application and have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.
- Successful applicants on this route will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of two years if they have successfully completed an undergraduate or master’s degree. PhD graduates will be able to stay for three years. Graduates will be able to switch into skilled work once they have found a suitable job.
- The new route will be launched on 1 July 2021, meaning that any eligible student who graduates after this date will be able to apply for the route. This includes students who have already started their courses.
- The Graduate Route will require a new visa application, which will only be possible from inside the UK.
- It will include the payment of a visa fee of £700 and the Immigration Health Surcharge at the full rate of £624 per year.
- Students will also need to know the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) they used for their most recent Student (or Tier 4) application in order to apply for the Graduate Route.
If you have been studying online in your home country due to Covid-19, you can still apply for the Graduate Route, provided you meet the other requirements of the route. This is part of the UK government's Covid-19 student visa concessions. The guidance states:
- Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 via distance learning, and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course, will be able to make an application if they make a successful student visa application and arrive in the UK either before their visa ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner.
- Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 who have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and who have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to make an application as long as they are present in the UK before the end date of their permission.
- Students sponsored for a course lasting longer than 12 months will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate Route as a result of any distance learning that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021.
For more information on the Graduate Route, and to view frequently asked questions, visit the Home Office blog.
You can find out more information about working after your studies on the UKCISA website.