If you are considering studying abroad for your Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree, it is quite likely that post-study employment will play a big part in your decision-making process.

You will be excited to know that in September 2019, the UK government announced a new two-year post-study work visa, which will provide successful international students with the opportunity to build a career in the UK. If this piques your interest and you wish to apply to study in the UK, SchoolApply can help through each step of the application process. But first, here is everything you need to know about this new visa.


An intro to the UK post-study visa

In 2004, the UK introduced a new rule allowing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) graduates to stay in the UK for one year to gain work experience. This rapidly expanded to allow all graduates of any discipline and any degree to remain in the UK for up to two years to search for work. This system, however, was halted in 2011 by the government at the time because of concerns about the unemployment rate of British students. The new rule stated that international students who graduated from a UK university only had six months to secure a graduate-level position with an employer who would sponsor a Tier 2 visa.

In 2019, Gavin Williamson, the UK Education Secretary, put out a statement saying that the government reinstated the two-year visa rule because international students make a vital contribution to the country and universities both culturally and economically. He added: “Their presence benefits Britain, which is why we’ve increased the period of time these students can remain in the UK after their studies.”

UK post-study visa

What is the new UK post-study visa?

This new pathway to a career in the UK is referred to the “Graduate Immigration Route” and according to the Gov.UK Home Office blog, it “will be available to international students who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance and who have a valid Tier 4 visa at the time of application.”

The new route will be launched in the summer of 2021, meaning that any eligible student who graduates in the summer of 2021 or after will be able to apply. This includes students who have already started their courses. Unfortunately, the Graduate Immigration Route will not be open to those who have completed their studies or are due to complete them in the summer of 2020.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs has laid out the key features of the route, including details about the application process. There will be an application fee and applicants will pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. They will also be subject to identity, criminality, and security checks.

student studying

The Graduate Immigration route at a glance

Who is this route for?

The route will be open to international students who entered the UK in the academic year 2020/21 onwards and have completed a degree at the undergraduate level or above at reputable higher education institutions.

How do I apply?

The graduate immigration route will require a new application. It will include the payment of a visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The exact fee will be set out in due course.

When does this route begin?

The new route will be launched in the summer of 2021.

I am already studying in the UK. Do I qualify for this route?

Any student who successfully completes their degree-level course at a qualifying institution in the summer of 2021 or after will be eligible. This includes students who are already studying. Those whose Tier 4 leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible for it.

Does this program count toward settlement? 

The route is non-extendable and does not count towards settlement. However, graduates who find an appropriate job and meet the requirements will be able to switch into skilled work, which is a route to settlement.

Why isn’t the route starting sooner?

It takes time to develop a new immigration route and ensure the framework is in place for it to successfully operate. Introducing the route in the summer of 2021 will mean that all students who graduate in the summer of 2021 or after will benefit, regardless of when they started their course.

A representative from the University of Stirling, one of the UK universities that SchoolApply works with, says: “The new route will allow graduates to apply for jobs regardless of their skills or the subject they studied.”

grad students

In addition to this, the Graduate Immigration Route does not have any limits in regards to how many students can qualify for the post-study work visa. The most important criteria for the post-study work visa is emphasized by Gov.UK, which states that students must already be under a Tier 4 visa, granted by an approved Higher Education provider in the UK, however, it is important to note that this may change.

SchoolApply’s team of education advisors will guide you through every step of the application process

Learn More

How easy is it to obtain a Tier 4 visa for the UK?

Until this Graduate Immigration Route is put into action in 2021, the Tier 4 visa is what international students will need to study in the UK. SchoolApply’s, Senior Education Advisor for the UK, Anusha says that “the Tier 4 visa process can be quite daunting, especially when ensuring the documents are in order and meet the requirements.”

At SchoolApply, our team of UK advisors have extensive experience in helping students apply for their Tier 4 student visas. They review application forms, assess document eligibility, and conduct mock interviews. 

Adnan Ali, SchoolApply's Managing Director for Pakistan, adds that “SchoolApply makes sure that the student understands the financial requirements along with other factors such as language tests and credential assessment required by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to minimize the risk of refusal.” 

UKVI is responsible for making millions of decisions every year about who has the right to visit or stay in the country, with a firm emphasis on national security and a culture of customer satisfaction for people who come here legally.

In light of the new policy change, our expert advisors believe that the process of obtaining a Tier 4 visa will not change from what it is now. The most important thing is to have a valid reason for wanting to study in the UK in order to prove a genuine temporary entrance.

Bridge of Sighs

How does the Tier 4 student visa and Graduate Immigration Route compare to other study abroad destinations?

Getting a post-study work visa in Canada (called PGWP) varies depending on your course and its duration. A work permit under the PGWP is usually issued for the length of the study program the student has successfully completed. The maximum length of the post-study work permit is for three years. For example, if your post-graduate course’s duration is two years, you will qualify for a two-year PGWP visa.

The PGWP allows international students graduating from a participating post-secondary college/university to gain Canadian work experience. In the long run, Canadian work experience gained through PGWP helps international graduates qualify for PR (permanent residence) in Canada through express entry.

In America, students are issued an F1 visa after successfully completing their studies. This is one post-study work visa in the US that allows students to stay for a maximum of 12 months in the US after their studies. For international students pursuing STEM subjects, they are allowed to remain for three years after finishing their course of study. After this, students can engage in a “lottery system” wherein 50,000 immigrant visas are randomly selected for a green card.


Why else is the UK a good study abroad option?

The UK is known for its well-established and high-ranking universities and the prestigious academic culture found on their campuses. The UK is a modern hub of services and institutions that attracts talent from all over the world. When it comes to academics, the UK is an attractive destination for study abroad students because the path to a degree is often shorter, so students can earn a Bachelor’s Degree in three years and a Master’s Degree in one year. In other countries, this can take four years and two years respectively.

SchoolApply is delighted to hear this change in policy. We hope that more students will have successful careers in the United Kingdom. To learn more about how SchoolApply can help you study in the United Kingdom in 2020, create an account, complete your profile, and schedule a consultation with one of our expert advisors.