New Post-Study Work Visa Announced for International Students

Career Advice
23 September 2019 | Career Advice | Guest Author

In a bid to attract and retain the ‘best and brightest’ international talent in the UK, the Home Office unveiled a new route on 11 September that allows graduates to remain and work in the UK for two years.

The graduate visa route is not entirely new and has been a point of contention for MPs in Westminster for many years. Former Prime Minister, Theresa May, scrapped the post-study work option for graduates in 2012, citing that it was “too generous”. To this day, international graduates have had a mere four months to find work after their course ends – after which they must then qualify for a UK visa or return to their home country.

The post-Brexit immigration plan did inch marginally further by offering students six months leave to find work instead. But this still disappointed British universities and former University Minister, Jo Johnson, who had been pushing for the two-year extension.

Now, however, in a landmark overhaul of the scheme, the two-year Post-study Work Visa has been adequately resurrected.

About the Post-Study Work Visa

The Post-Study Work Visa means students from overseas studying in the UK on a Tier 4 Student Visa will be eligible to seek employment in the country for up to two years after graduation.

The idea is that this ‘grace’ period allows students to realistically jumpstart their career while solidifying roots to the UK. They can participate in work experience or actively fulfil a position in their chosen career or industry. Applicants will be able to seek jobs regardless of their skillset or degree.

Although the details are yet to be ironed out, the visa is expected to be launched by 2020/21 in line with the new immigration rules. This means EU students will also benefit from the scheme in the foreseeable future.

According to Home Office Head of Student Migration Policy, Paul Jeffery, the visa does not require sponsorship unlike most other visa types. This means that candidates will not be tied to their university for endorsement after their study while universities will no longer need to maintain responsibility of them.


However, the Home Office warn the pathway will only open to ‘genuine and credible students’.

And, since the plan launches in 2020/21, the route may not be open in time for international students currently in the midst of completing their bachelors or masters. Those set to graduate before the launch may be excluded from the opportunity.

What’s worse is that Post-study Work Visa applicants may have to leave the country if they don’t qualify for a UK visa once their two years comes to an end. For most, this will mean applying for a Tier 2 Work Visa and meeting its stringent £30,000 financial requirement.

Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, suggests this undermines the graduate visa as many starting a promising career in the country – such as those “doing fantastic medical and other research” – earn significantly less.

Celebrated by UK Universities

The move is still widely celebrated by UK universities as it comes at a time when international enrolments have been declining and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) have been under threat.

Alistair Jarvis, the Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “the introduction of a two-year Post-study Work Visa is something Universities UK has long campaigned for and we strongly welcome this policy change which will put us back where we belong as a first-choice study destination.”

The Home Office hopes the visa will make some headway in transforming the country into a ‘world-leader’ and ‘science superpower’. The news follows from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s previous announcement that will see the Tier 1 visa rules relaxed for elite researchers, scientists and engineers.


This article has been written by Olivia Bridge who is a political correspondent for the Immigration Advice Service; an organisation of immigration lawyers.

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