After completing your studies in the United Kingdom, you may wish to extend your stay to gain valuable work experience. The UK post study work visa, known as the Graduate Route, allows international students who have successfully completed their degree to stay and work in the UK for up to two years (or three years for PhD graduates). This article will guide you through the application process, requirements, and other vital information you need to know when applying for a UK post study work visa.
- Eligibility Criteria:
To be eligible for the UK post study work visa, you must meet the following criteria:
a. You must have completed an eligible course at the undergraduate or postgraduate level at a UK higher education institution with a track record of compliance.
b. You must have a valid Tier 4 (General) student visa or Student visa at the time of application.
c. You must have successfully completed your course within the validity period of your student visa.
Please note that the Graduate Route is unsuitable for individuals seeking to settle permanently in the UK, as it does not lead to settlement.
- When to Apply:
You can apply for the Graduate Route from within the UK, starting from the date your higher education institution confirms your successful completion of the course. It is important to apply before your current student visa expires, as the Graduate Route visa will not be granted if you have overstayed your student visa.
- How to Apply:
The application process for the UK post study work visa is straightforward and can be completed online. Follow these steps to apply:
a. Create an account on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website.
b. Complete the online application form for the Graduate Route.
c. Pay the visa application fee (£715) and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
d. Upload the required documents, such as your passport, Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement.
e. Book and attend a biometric appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) center.
f. Wait for a decision, which typically takes up to eight weeks.
- Required Documents:
To support your UK post study work visa application, you must submit the following documents:
a. A valid passport or other travel document.
b. Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) if you have one.
c. A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement from your higher education institution confirming your successful completion of the course.
d. Evidence of maintenance funds, which is currently set at £1,334, to prove that you can support yourself during your stay in the UK.
e. Any additional documents requested by UKVI, such as academic transcripts or previous immigration history.
- Working in the UK:
With the Graduate Route visa, you are allowed to work in any job without restrictions, including self-employment. However, you are not allowed to work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.
- Extending Your Stay and Switching to Other Visa Categories:
The UK post study work visa cannot be extended beyond the initial two or three-year period. However, you can switch to other visa categories, such as the Skilled Worker visa, if you find a job that meets the requirements of the new visa. This will allow you to continue working in the UK and potentially apply for settlement in the future.
Your family members (spouse, partner, or children under 18) can apply to join you in the UK as your dependents if they are already in the UK as dependents on your student visa. To apply as a dependent, they will need to complete a separate application form and submit the required documents, such as their passport, proof of relationship to you, and evidence of maintenance funds. Dependents are also required to pay the visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
- Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS):
When applying for the UK post study work visa, you and your dependents must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). The IHS payment grants you access to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK during your stay. As of 2023, the IHS rate for the Graduate Route visa is £624 per year, but it is subject to change. It is essential to check the current rate before applying.
- Biometric Residence Permit (BRP):
After your UK post study work visa application is approved, you will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as proof of your immigration status in the UK. The BRP includes your personal details, visa type, and duration, and biometric information (fingerprints and photo). You must collect your BRP from the designated location within ten days of arriving in the UK.
- Potential Challenges and Tips:
Some potential challenges you may face during the application process include:
a. Delays in receiving your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement: Make sure to request your CAS statement from your higher education institution as soon as you complete your course to avoid delays in your application.
b. Insufficient maintenance funds: It is crucial to ensure that you have the required maintenance funds in your account for at least 28 consecutive days before applying.
c. Timing issues: Apply for the Graduate Route visa as soon as you are eligible, as you cannot apply after your student visa has expired.
The UK post study work visa (Graduate Route) is an excellent opportunity for international students to gain work experience in the UK after completing their studies. By understanding the eligibility criteria, application process, and required documents, you can successfully apply for the Graduate Route visa and kickstart your career in the UK. Always stay up to date with the latest changes and requirements on the UKVI website to ensure a smooth application process.