UKVI Post-Study Work Visa: Things to Know for International Students

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Prodigy Finance - May, 15 2024

8 min read

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At Prodigy Finance, we're committed to helping international talent to achieve their education dreams. We offer international student loans to qualified individuals attending top master's programmes in the US.

As a student looking to study overseas, one of the key questions you might want to ask is how the experience will shape your future. You'll also want to know what opportunities will be available to you in your study-abroad country. As a matter of fact, studies have found that students consider the option to work after graduation as an important factor when choosing where to study.

Until recently international students in the UK were only allowed to stay for a short period after graduation. However, this changed in 2020 with the introduction of the Post-Study Work (PSW) visa, also known as the "graduate route." This visa gives international graduates more time to find work in the UK after completing their studies, with almost full access to the UK job market, allowing them to work at any skill level.

This article will serve as a guide for international graduates in the UK to determine their eligibility, navigate the application process, and understand their post-visa options.

What is a UK Post-Study Work Visa?

The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) department offers a post-study work visa, officially known as the Graduate Route visa, to international students who want to extend their stay in the country after completing their studies. This visa allows graduates to work or look for employment in the UK for up to 2 years (3 years for PhD holders) without the need for employer sponsorship.

There is no need for a job offer beforehand – this visa is a fantastic opportunity for students to kickstart their careers in the United Kingdom. It's a chance to gain valuable work experience and explore opportunities in the UK job market.

Who can Apply - Eligibility Criteria

Landing a Graduate Visa is all about checking a few boxes.

First, you must be in the UK when you apply for the visa. This means you can't apply from outside the country.

Secondly, you need to have successfully completed an eligible degree programme at a recognised UK university. Here are all the programs that qualify for a Graduate Visa:

Eligible programmes

  • Undergraduate degree
  • Master's degree
  • PhD/Doctoral degree
  • Law conversion course validated by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales
  • Legal Practice Course in England and Wales, Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland, or Diploma in Professional Legal - - - Practice in Scotland
  • Bar Practice Course in England and Wales, or the Bar Course in Northern Ireland
  • Foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)
  • Professional courses requiring study at UK bachelor's degree level or above in a profession with reserved activities (e.g. OSPAP)

Students are required to have completed a minimum study duration:

  • For courses 12 months or less: The student must have studied the full length of the course in the UK on a Tier 4/Student visa.
  • For courses longer than 12 months: The student must have studied at least 12 months of the course in the UK on a Tier 4/Student visa.

The last main requirement is that you have a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your university. Your education provider would verify to the Home Office directly of your successful course completion.

It's also important to have a clean immigration history and not have breached any visa conditions during your stay in the UK.

The great thing about this visa is that there's no need to provide evidence of funds or English language proficiency, as you will have already proved your English language ability by successfully completing your degree at a UK university. As long as you meet these basic eligibility criteria, you're good to go!

Application Process for the Graduate Visa

Applying for the UKVI post-study work visa is a straightforward process. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate it:

Step 1: Create a UKVI Account

This is where you'll submit your application and track its progress.

Step 2: Gather Required Documents

Make sure you have all the necessary documents ready:

  • A valid passport or travel document
  • A biometric residence permit (BRP) card (if you already have one)
  • Student Visa or Tier 4 (General) Visa status proof
  • Proof of your relationship with your partner or children (if applicable), as the visa also permits you to bring dependents.

Step 3: Submit Your Application

Fill out the application form and upload the required documents. You'll also need to book an appointment at a visa application centre to provide your biometric information, such as fingerprints and a photo. Make sure to double-check all the information before submitting.

Step 4: Pay the Fees

You'll need to pay the application fee (£822) and the immigration health surcharge (£1,035 per year).

Step 5: Confirm Your Identity

Use the UK Immigration: ID Check app to confirm your identity. You may also need to attend an interview if required.

Step 6: Wait for a Decision

Once you've submitted your application, wait for a decision from the UKVI. This can take several weeks, so be patient.

Step 7: Collect Your BRP Card

If your application is successful, you'll receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card, which serves as proof of your visa status in the UK.

You're all set. You can now work in the UK.

Disclaimer: Fees quoted are correct as at the date of publication. Please check the official UKVI website for the latest application fee information.

Permitted Activities and Restrictions for UKVI

This visa opens doors for fresh graduates to explore job opportunities in one of the world's largest economies. Nonetheless, these work rights are a condition of your immigration permission, so it’s very important that you are clear about what you may and may not do. You must always follow any restrictions and ensure that your work does not overstep the permissions. Applicants with a UKVI post-study work visa are allowed to:

  • Work in any job or sector, including self-employment, without restrictions on the number of hours.
  • Change jobs freely during the visa period.
  • Bring your dependents, such as your partner and children, to live with you in the UK.

However, individuals under the post-study work visa are not allowed to claim public funds, so you'll need to support yourself financially during your stay. You cannot work as a professional sportsperson or coach. You also cannot work in certain government roles, such as a member of the armed forces or a diplomatic mission.

By understanding these permitted activities and restrictions, you can make the most of your post-study work visa in the UK and embark on a fulfilling career journey.

What Happens After the Graduate Visa Expires?

You can't extend the Graduate Visa itself, but you might be eligible to switch to a work visa with sponsorship later if you find a suitable long-term job.

If you plan to stay for a longer term in the UK, you may explore alternate visa options based on your future goals.

One possibility is to apply for a Skilled Worker visa. This visa allows you to continue working in the UK, but you'll need to have a job offer from an approved employer who can sponsor your visa.

Another option is to explore other relevant visa categories, such as the Health and Care Worker Visa, Senior or Specialist Worker Visa, Minister of Religion Visa, or International Sportsperson Visa, depending on your qualifications and career path.

The key is to plan ahead and sort out your options before your UKVI post-study visa expires. This will let you make a smooth transition while maintaining your presence in the UK.

Remember, the UK offers a range of opportunities for international graduates, and with the right visa, you can continue to build your career and life in this vibrant country.


The UK offers a range of opportunities for international graduates, and with the right visa, you can continue to build your career and life in this vibrant country.

This golden opportunity can be yours as well. If you dream of studying overseas and starting a career in the UK or elsewhere, Prodigy Finance can help you kickstart your journey. They provide student loans for international postgraduate studies. With the right financial backing and the right visa, the possibilities for international graduates in the UK are truly limitless.


I took a short-term course in the UK. Can I still apply for the UK Post-Study Work Visa?

The Graduate Visa is not for short-term courses. Language programmes or diplomas do not qualify for this visa. As discussed above, you need to have completed at least 12 months of study in the UK on a Tier 4/Student visa for longer courses or the full length of the course for programs.

Am I eligible if I have completed my degree through distance learning or online courses?

Completely online or remote learning degrees, without a physical presence in the UK, do not meet the eligibility criteria for this visa. The only concession given is for online courses during the COVID-19 time period. The online continuation of the course for the duration of January 24, 2020, and September 27, 2021, is eligible. The idea is to have gained substantial experience studying and living in the UK during your degree program.

Can I travel outside the UK and re-enter while on this visa?

The visa allows you to freely travel in and out of the UK during the 2-year (or 3-year for PhD holders) period. As long as your visa is still valid, you can leave the UK for short trips and then come back without any issues. This flexibility gives you the opportunity to visit your home country or travel to other destinations.

Is there a minimum grade requirement for the Graduate Visa?

The deciding criteria is the successful completion of an eligible degree program at a recognised UK university rather than a particular grade. You may apply for the visa as soon as your classes end and before you are even awarded the degree certificate. Your school or college can directly inform the Home Office that you’ve successfully completed your course.

Do I need to pay UK taxes while working with a Graduate Visa?

As a worker in the UK (even if you’re on a Graduate Visa), you are required to pay UK taxes, including National Insurance contributions and income tax. It's important to understand your tax obligations and ensure you comply with UK tax laws to avoid any penalties.

The purpose of this guide is to provide prospective students with a general overview of the application process for the most prevalent type of visa applied for by the majority of foreign students. Each applicant’s personal circumstances and requirements for entering and remaining in the UK will determine which type of visa will be required by that person to enter the UK. This guide is not directed at nor created for the benefit of any particular individual nor any relevant or particular matter and therefore does not constitute legal or immigration advice. This guide is not a substitute for the official information published by UKVI from time to time or any instructions and/or advice provided by UK embassies and consuls. Whilst we have carefully compiled the guide in accordance with the information published by UKVI, Prodigy Finance Limited does not accept liability for any inaccuracies, mistakes, omissions or outdated information in the guide and we encourage prospective students and other readers to consult the UKVI’s website. Prodigy Finance Limited is not authorised by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) or any other approved professional body to provide immigration advice and will not provide any additional information or assistance to any person to apply for a UK student or other category visa.

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