A Guide to Post-Work Study Visas in the United Kingdom
With its renowned universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, and University of Edinburgh, the United Kingdom is one of the most attractive study destinations for international students. Hundreds of thousands of African students have successfully pursued their studies in the United Kingdom and many have gone on to work and live there. If you are curious about the post-study work visas in the United Kingdom, keep reading to find out the steps involved in obtaining the legal right to work in the U.K. at the end of your studies.
Step 1 – Acquire a Valid Student Visa
To qualify for a student visa in the United Kingdom, you need to first get admitted to a course in an approved institution – also known as a licensed student sponsor. The college or university that has admitted you will send you something called Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number which you will use to apply for a student visa. In addition, you will need to prove that you are proficient in English and that you have the required funding to pay for your fees. Just like most other visas, you will also need to pay an application fee when you visit your local embassy or consulate. You can find out more details on the United Kingdom’s government website.
Step 2 – Undertake and Complete Studies in the United Kingdom
If you are hoping to work legally in the United Kingdom, you must be prepared to work hard in your studies and attain the appropriate diploma. If you fail to graduate from the course that you applied for, you will not be allowed to pursue the graduate route which gives international students in the United Kingdom the right to gain valuable work experience. As such, it is critical for you to apply yourself diligently and make sure you complete your degree course in a timely manner.
Step 3 – Apply for the Graduate Route
Applying for the graduate route is done online on the United Kingdom’s government website. The first step involves setting up an account with UK Visas and Immigration. Once the account has been created, the next step is to use the UK Immigration ID Check app to verify your identity. For this step, you use your Biometric Residence Card that was issued when you first came to the United Kingdom for your studies. Once you are done with this step, you will then be granted an eVisa that will allow you to work legally in the UK.
You can only make an application for the graduate route once you have received your final grades from your university – not any time before. You also need to be in the United Kingdom when you complete the application. The application fee is 700 pounds and an immigration health surcharge that amounts to around 624 pounds annually. This allows you to access the health services while you reside in the United Kingdom. Once you file your application, you can expect to receive your decision within two months.
Step 4 – Observe the Terms of the Graduate Route
Once you receive your eVisa, you need to abide by its terms to avoid losing your status. This visa does not allow you to bring on dependents or undertake full-time studies. The graduate route runs for a total of two years for people with bachelor’s and master degrees and three years for those who have attained a PhD in the United Kingdom. The graduate route cannot be extended at the end of this period. However, those who want to continue working in the United Kingdom have the option of switching to another visa type, for example the Skilled Worker Permit.
Step 5 – Switch to Skilled Worker Route
To qualify for the skilled worker route, you need to secure a job with an employer who is licensed by the United Kingdom’s home office. The skilled worker visa allows you to stay for up to five years – and it contributes to what are called settlement rights. This means that at the end of the five years, you can apply to become a permanent resident in the United Kingdom. To learn more about this route, check out this guide by the U.K. government. If you are curious about other types of visas that allow someone to work legally in the United Kingdom, see this resource.
The United Kingdom is a great destination if you are looking for a country where you can get a high quality education and an opportunity to work after graduation. The graduate route and the skilled worker route enable international students to make the best use of their time in the United Kingdom.
Before you settle on the country that you want to pursue your higher education in, you should take the time to conduct thorough research on aspects such as the quality of studies and the post-study opportunities.
At 8B, it is our goal to help you navigate this terrain by providing the most up-to-date information. If you want to learn more, check our guides about post-work study visas in Canada and the United States.