How long can International Students stay in the UK after Graduation?

International students who have completed their undergraduate or master’s degree in the UK from 1 July 2021 upward will be able to stay back in the country for 2 years after their graduation. Similarly, those who have completed their PhD. can remain in the country for up to three years after graduation. This provision was made possible through the new Graduate Visa Route recently announced by the government. 

This new route is a part of the United Kingdom government’s plan to bring in 600,000 international students into the country by 2030 and to boost opportunities for international graduates.

All you need to know about the Graduate Visa Route

The Graduate Visa route is a new provision made available for international students that have completed their undergraduate or postgraduate education in the country to remain and work in the country for a few years after graduation.

Interested students with a valid UK student visa and a record of compliance will be able to apply for this visa class if they choose to stay back to work and gain experience in the UK. If successful, students can stay back to look for work and work at any skill level for a period of two years (or 3 years) after the completion of their studies.

The graduate visa route was officially launched on 1 July 2021 which means students who graduate from a UK University after this date will be able to apply to remain in the country through this route. This applies to students that have already started their courses as well.

Eligibility Criteria

The following are the eligibility criteria for applying for a UK graduate visa

  • You must be in the UK (there are special conditions for those who had to study remotely due to Coronavirus restrictions).
  • You must currently hold a student visa or a Tier 4 general student visa
  • You have completed your studies in the UK during the duration of your student visa. (this applies to undergraduate, postgraduate, and other eligible courses such as a PGDE, PDCE, foundation program in medicine or dentistry, law conversion course, and legal practice course).

How to Apply

If you wish to remain in the UK through the graduate route, you have to start a new visa application before the expiration of your student visa. You can only apply for a graduate visa if you’re still living in the UK. Talk to an immigration lawyer about your plans in order to get all the information you need about the process.

You can begin your application for a graduate visa after your university or college notifies you that you have completed your courses. This means you don’t have to wait till you have been given a certificate from your education provider before you can begin your graduate Visa application.

The cost of your graduate visa application is £700. You will also be required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year as part of your application. You will be required to provide the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) reference number that was used for your most recent student visa application.

Additionally, you will also be required to provide proof of your identity (typically your passport or other travel documents) and your biometric residence permit if you were issued one when you applied for your student visa.

Once you have all the required documents ready, you can submit your application online. You will be contacted with a decision on the status of your application within 8 weeks of applying. You are allowed to remain in the country while you await this decision.

Can you stay longer in the UK after your Graduate Visa Expires?

The duration of the graduate visa cannot be extended beyond the 2 (or 3) years that were initially approved for you. However, if you wish to remain in the UK after your graduate visa expires, you may apply for a new visa class such as a skilled worker visa or any other type of visa that allows you to stay and work in the UK.

Final Words

With the new graduate visa route, international students can now remain in the UK for up to 2 years after graduation. This allows you to find a job and get work experience in the country after your graduation if you wish to do so. If you wish to take this route, you should speak to a student visa lawyer for guidance about how to apply for a graduate visa and the options available to you.

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