Guide to Applying for the UK Post Study Work Visa
Completing your studies in the United Kingdom opens up an exciting opportunity to extend your stay and gain valuable work experience. The UK Post Study Work Visa, also known as the Graduate Route, allows international students who have successfully completed their degrees to stay and work in the UK for up to two years (or three years for PhD graduates). In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the application process, requirements, and essential information you need to know when applying for this visa.
To be eligible for the UK Post Study Work Visa, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must have completed an eligible undergraduate or postgraduate course at a UK higher education institution with a proven track record of compliance.
- You must possess a valid Tier 4 (General) student visa or Student visa at the time of application.
- You must have successfully completed your course within the validity period of your student visa.
Please note that the Graduate Route does not lead to permanent settlement in the UK; it is designed for those seeking temporary work experience.
When to Apply
You can apply for the Graduate Route from within the UK as soon as your higher education institution confirms your successful course completion. It is crucial to apply before your current student visa expires, as overstaying your student visa will render you ineligible for the Graduate Route visa.
How to Apply
The application process for the UK Post Study Work Visa is straightforward and can be completed online. Follow these steps:
- Create an account on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website.
- Complete the online application form for the Graduate Route.
- Pay the visa application fee (£715) and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
- Upload the required documents, including your passport, Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement.
- Book and attend a biometric appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) center.
- Wait for a decision, which typically takes up to eight weeks.
Supporting your UK Post Study Work Visa application requires the submission of the following documents:
- A valid passport or travel document.
- Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) if you possess one.
- A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement from your higher education institution, confirming your successful course completion.
- Evidence of maintenance funds, currently set at £1,334, to demonstrate your ability to support yourself during your UK stay.
- Any additional documents requested by UKVI, such as academic transcripts or immigration history.
Working in the UK
With the Graduate Route visa, you have the freedom to work in any job without restrictions, including self-employment. However, it’s important to note that working as a professional sportsperson or sports coach is not allowed.
Extending Your Stay and Switching 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 new visa’s requirements. This will enable 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 dependents if they are already in the UK as dependents on your student visa. To apply as dependents, they must complete a separate application form and provide the required documents, including passports, proof of relationship, 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)
Both you and your dependents must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) when applying for the UK Post Study Work Visa. The IHS payment grants 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. Be sure to check the current rate before applying.
Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
Upon approval of your UK Post Study Work Visa application, you will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as proof of your immigration status in the UK. The BRP includes personal details, visa type, 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
During the application process, you may encounter some challenges:
- Delays in receiving your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement: Request your CAS statement from your higher education institution promptly after course completion to avoid delays.
- Insufficient maintenance funds: Ensure you maintain the required funds in your account for at least 28 consecutive days before applying.
- Timing issues: Apply for the Graduate Route visa as soon as you are eligible, as applications after your student visa has expired will not be accepted.
The UK Post Study Work Visa (Graduate Route) offers international students a valuable opportunity to gain work experience in the UK after completing their studies. By familiarizing yourself with the eligibility criteria, application process, and required documents, you can successfully apply for the Graduate Route visa and embark on your career in the UK. Stay informed about the latest changes and requirements on the UKVI website to ensure a smooth application process.