The UK 2 Years Post-Study Work Visa for graduates

The UK 2 Years Post-Study Work Visa for graduates

International students who start their studies in the UK in 2020 or after will benefit from the new post-study work visa (PSW) for graduates. This usually means a work and residence permit of 24 months (2 years) after graduation. How does it work? Keep reading to find out:

What is the UK post-study work visa for graduates?

The UK post-study work visa allows international students to stay in the United Kingdom after graduation in order to find work, for up to 2 years.

The new visa rules will come into effect for all international students that begin their studies in autumn 2020 or later. During the first 2 years after graduation, PSW visa holders can work in any job they can find, and the goal is for them to transition into a general work visa afterwards.

The opportunity to stay and work for 2 years after graduation makes the UK an attractive destination for students seeking to start their international career. Few other countries in Europe offer such good conditions for their foreign students.


Can you work in the UK after graduation?

Yes: The new post-study work visa rules will allow you to work in the UK after graduation.

From September 2020 any student enrolling at a UK university can stay in the UK after graduation for up to two years in order to look for work related to their degree or course. This applies to graduates of all higher education providers that are recognised as ‘licensed visa sponsors’

The visa requirements for those graduates are expected to be the same as their original student visa rules, so unless your personal circumstances have changed, it should be automatic.

This applies to undergraduate (Bachelor), post-graduate (Master) and even PhD graduates.

The PSW visa is meant to give graduates more time to find a job after university; it does not affect how much you can work while you study.

Who is eligible for a UK post-study work visa?

Any international student on a Tier 4 visa who enrols at a UK institution from September 2020 will be eligible to stay in the UK after graduation to find a job.

This is an extension of rule changes which allowed PhDs to stay in the UK after graduation. The UK says this is because it wants to grow its STEM industry fields. From 2020 onwards the option will be open to all graduates.

Previously, graduates of Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees had only four months to stay and look for a job. With the new graduate visa rules, that has been improved to two years.

When do the post-study work rules come into effect?

The new PSW rules will be open to all students, on Tier 4 visas, who are accepted onto a course in the 2020 intake or later. So, if you’re thinking of applying to a course in the UK starting in September or October 2020, these are the rules that would apply to you when you graduate.

However, keep in mind that visa rules can change at any time, and that individual circumstances may be relevant. Make sure to follow public announcements for any future changes.

What happens after the post-study work visa ends?

The post-study work visa allows graduates to look for any kind of job, and they will generally be allowed to stay for up to two years after graduation. That means: For the two years immediately after you graduate, you will be able to work in any role you find.

But when that period ends and the PSW visa expires, anyone who wants to stay longer in the UK will have to apply to transfer to a ‘general work visa’ (or ‘skilled work visa’).

For this, your job must fit the visa requirements for a Tier 2 visa, the ‘general work visa’. That usually means you must be paid at least £30,000 per year; but for some jobs, this level can be higher or lower.

Does it matter for the PSW visa which university I graduate from?

Generally, graduates from all UK universities are eligible for the post-study work visa. The condition is that the British government recognises it as a trusted institution.

However, this list is not set in stone, and it can be changed if a university fails to keep its “proven track record’ on upholding immigration and visa checks. So if you are studying or planning to study in the UK, it pays off to double-check whether your university is confirmed on this list.

Do I need a sponsor for the UK post-study work visa?

To qualify for the PSW visa you do not need a sponsor. A sponsor is usually needed for other visa types; typically this would be an employer.

In this case, the ‘sponsor’ is the university you graduate from – as long as it qualifies. Every international graduate from the recognised list of UK universities is eligible for the post-study work visa.

Does it matter what subject I study for post-study work?

No, the post-study work visa applies to graduates from all academic disciplines.

In 2019, the UK government had already relaxed visa rules for students graduating from a higher level degree, like Master’s or PhD, in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). From 2020 this is extended to any graduate of any degree from trusted higher education providers.

You will have to study a full degree, though. The new visa rules do not apply to anyone studying a short course, an English language training course, A-Levels or the Baccalaureate.

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