Skip to main content

A UK post-study work visa allows international students to stay back in the UK after graduating. Also known as UK graduate visa. It allows them to stay for about two years. Many use this as an opportunity to get employment. Every student looking to stay back and work in the Uk after their MSc/Ph.D should read this! 

In September 2019, the UK Government announced that from 2020/21, international students who complete an undergraduate or MSc/Ph.D. degree in the UK can stay and work in the UK for up to two years. This permits you to stay in the UK for at least two years after completing a course in the UK.


The following determines if you are eligible or not:

  • The education provider (University/College) where you completed the course;
  • You must be in the UK when you apply.
  • The program the applicant completed;
  • The length of time the student studied in the UK.
  • The applicant is in the United Kingdom. 
  • The applicant currently holds a Student Visa or a Tier 4 
  • The applicant has acquired a UK undergraduate degree, postgraduate degree, or completed another eligible course for the required time on a Student Visa or Tier 4. 
  • Your education provider (such as your university or college) has told the Home Office you have completed your course. (You can ask your education provider if you are not sure whether they have told the Home Office you have completed your course.)

Work visa


Graduate Visa applications must be submitted to the UK Home Office before the applicant’s current Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa expires. A Graduate Visa will be issued for two years. For students who hold a Ph.D. or other doctoral qualifications, the visa duration will be granted for three years. The start date of the visa will be from the day the application is approved.

It is not possible to renew a Graduate Visa. Suppose the applicant wishes to continue staying in the UK beyond two years, an application to switch to a different visa category (such as a Skilled Worker Visa) must be made before the expiry of the Graduate visa.

The route does not require you to show funds or finance. You would have already proven your English proficiency by completing your degree at a UK university. As a result, a demonstration of English language proficiency when submitting your application is not needed.


For a UK post-study work visa, you have to apply online. Your partner and children can also apply to stay in the UK if they are eligible.


You must apply before your study visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa expires.

The application can be done after your education provider (your university or college) has told the Home Office that you have completed your course. Which you must have taken with your Student or Tier 4 (General) student visa. You do not have to wait until you have graduated or have a certificate.

You will have to prove your identity and provide your documents when you apply. Your application may take longer if you need an appointment to do this. You will find out if you need one when you start your application.

Work visa for students


Once you have applied online, proved your identity, and provided your documents. A decision on visa within eight weeks. You can stay in the UK while you wait for a decision.


When you apply for a Graduate visa, you will need to:

  • pay the £715 application fee
  • pay the healthcare surcharge – this is usually £624 for each year you will be in the UK


With a UK post-study work visa, you can:

  • work in most jobs
  • look for work
  • be self-employed
  • continue living in the UK with your partner and children, if they are eligible
  • do voluntary work
  • travel abroad and return to the UK

You cannot:

  • apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension
  • work as a professional sportsperson
  • If your application is successful, you will get a list of what you can and cannot do with a Graduate visa.

Postgraduate work visa


You can only study with a Graduate visa if your chosen course is not eligible for a Student visa. If your program is eligible for a student visa, you can extend your Student visa instead.


The latest news on UK post-study work visa shows that, from the Graduate route, you may be eligible to switch to the Skilled Worker route. If you meet the relevant requirements,  you get to stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. It is for a maximum of five years and contributes to settlement rights, meaning you may be able to apply for permanent residency in the UK. The Graduate route does not count towards settlement rights.

To be eligible for the Skilled Worker route, you must demonstrate that:

You have a job offer from a Home Office-licensed sponsor 

  • skill level
  • You will be paid a minimum salary by your sponsor (normally £25,600 or the going rate for that particular job, whichever is higher)
  • You can speak English at the intermediate level at B1 (on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages).


The Graduate Route is unsponsored, which means you can use the time after you graduate to work or look for a job, at any skill level. You will have the opportunity to gain work experience, undertake an internship, or work as a freelancer in the UK.

There is no minimum salary requirement, and there is no limit on how many international students can have the opportunity to stay in the UK through the Graduate Route.

Once you have found suitable employment in the UK, you will have the chance to switch to a skilled work route and remain in the UK after your two or three years have come to an end.

Are you a Nigerian student? Are you looking to apply to a UK university and begin your visa application process? contact our fully qualified visa team today! Click here

Also, see Gov.UK for more information on your graduate visa eligibility status.