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5 Types of Post Study Work Visa in UK [2021]

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On 11 Sept 2019, the UK government has announced the return of post study work visa. International students who enrol to study in the UK universities for undergraduate level and above will be benefiting from this new post study work visa. This visa has been named “Graduate Route”, it will allow students to look for a job, work or stay for two years after they graduate.

The implementation date of this Graduate Route is on 1 July 2021. According to the statement made by the UK Home Office head of Student Migration Policy, students who graduate from the summer of 2021 onwards will benefit from this change. While the period of the Graduate Route is not implemented yet, the current immigration rule still applies.

Graduate Route

The graduate route is a post-graduate visa for international students who have completed a degree at the undergraduate level or above to continue to stay in the UK after they graduate. Find out more.

You must apply a work visa to work in the UK after you graduate. Even though you might have been given 4 – 6 months post study stay period depends on the course level or duration you were taken. This post-study stay period allows you to use this extra time to live and look for job in the UK, but it does not allow you to take any type of full-time jobs.

There are five types of work visa options that may be available to you.

  1. Tier 2 (General) visa is the most common work visa for international students to remain and work in the UK after their studies. The objective of this visa is to fill the shortage of the UK labour market. Therefore, applicants must meet a minimum salary of £30,000 per year and their employer must be a licensed Tier 2 sponsor to sponsor your work visa.
  2. Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme allows PhD students who complete their studies to stay in the UK for a further 12 months. Graduates can use this time to look for jobs, work to gain practical work experiences or set up a business as an entrepreneur.
  3. Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa is designed to help young adults from certain countries to experience life in the United Kingdom. This visa allows students from either Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea or Taiwan to work in the UK for up to two years after they graduate. There are limited places available for this visa and not allowed to apply from inside the UK.
  4. Tier 5 Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange visa route let international students stay in the UK for work experience, internship, training or research after their studies. Depends on the scheme you apply for, and the visa duration is up to 12-24 months. You will need to have a sponsor under an approved government authorised exchange scheme to apply for this visa. And this visa must apply from outside the UK.
  5. Start-up visa (replaces the formal Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa) is a visa option for international graduates who wish to develop ideas or entrepreneurial skills by setting up an innovative, viable and scalable business in the UK. You must have an endorsement letter from your UK universities or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs.

Below table gives a good overview of restrictions and conditions for different work visas.

UK Work Visa Requirements

Type of VisaRestrictionMaximum StayingSponsorship NeededDependents Allowed
Tier 2 (General) visaMinimum salary of £30,000 per year 5 years and 14 daysYesYes
Tier 4 Doctorate Extension SchemeA Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) issue by your university1 yearYesYes
Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa18 to 30 years old and from the nationals of certain countries*2 yearsYes but only for the nationals from Republic of KoreaNo
Tier 5 Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange visaAuthorised exchange schemes1-2 years depends on different schemesYesYes
Start-up VisaEndorsement letter from an authorised body2 yearsNoYes

*The certain countries are Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Taiwan.

Related Questions

How to apply for post study work visa in UK

You must apply online for all post study work visa except if you are living in North Korea. Besides the required documents, you should also read the individual visa guidance before you make the application.

Post study work visa for Indian Students in UK

In the normal circumstances, Indian students who have completed undergraduate and postgraduate courses can apply for employer-sponsored Tier 2 (General) visa. For PhD graduates, under the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme, you can stay in the UK for 1 year to work without prior finding an employer. If you want to set-up a business, the Start-up visa is the best option for you. Read more on Top 4 UK Post-study Work Visa for Indian Students.

Post study work visa for Hong Kong Student in UK

Hong Kong started to participate in Tier 5 (youth mobility scheme) from Jan 2014. Since then, students have one more visa option apart from those common post study work visa. Students now no longer required to obtain a certificate of sponsorship from the HK government before making the application (since July 2019). There will be 1,000 places available for HKSAR passport holders, the selection criteria have changed to a lottery-based system to allocate places and managed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

26 thoughts on “5 Types of Post Study Work Visa in UK [2021]”

  1. Am an acca student. I have completed a 6 papers in it.. and now I intrested in studying
    M.Sc accounting and finance in the base of my graduation in bachelor in commerce.. if I study and learn by my self and I attempt my balance papers in acca in UK,am already an acca registered student. Is there any legal problem for doing acca by my self preparation and at the same time am doing an m.sc accounting and finance in any university in UK…

    1. Hi Ameer, there is no legal problem doing self-study ACCA while you are taking your master’s degree. You might entitle some ACCA module exemption from your master of accounting and finance course. Please use ACCA’s Exemptions calculator for details of the exemption.

  2. Help!! Change of course; Graduate route visa(PSW) eligibility

    I’m expecting to complete my masters degree in Jan 2022, which includes an additional module of industrial interaction. My original visa runs up to May 2022.

    Will I lose my eligibility to PSW if I opt out of the additional module and change my course/visa which allows me to graduate in summer 2021?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Hemanth,

      The specific start date for the PSW scheme has not been announced UK government yet, and they only mentioned that it will be open in summer 2021. Once the start date released, we will update in the blog accordingly.

  3. Can acca students in uk eligible for psw or not. And if any student couldn’t compele acca exam in time can I able to extend visa. If during acca exam studying can I change course for example can I take admission for msc accounting and finance. After acca completion we can study MBA etc or not. I am asking all these question for international students

    1. Hi Ajlal,
      First of all, ACCA is a professional accounting qualification, and it is not a degree. Below is the reply to all your question.
      1.PSW only applicable for international students who enrol to study in the UK universities for undergraduate level and above. Our understanding is ACCA students will not be eligible for PSW.
      2.Student visa validity usually tied with your study duration. It depends on your current circumstances.
      3.It is unlikely you can change course from ACCA to MSc accounting and finance. Unless you have been awarded a bachelor’s degree from your previous studies.
      4.To get admission to an MBA program, it generally required an undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification plus a 2-3 years’ work experience. There will be additional requirements varies from different universities.

  4. Hello, I started a masters course in biomedical science last year in London and I’m supposed to end by June this year though my Visa validity runs till October.
    However, I opted for a re-enrolment in which two of my modules will be completed in the coming spring semester between February and June/July.
    Would I be eligible for the PSW given that;
    I’m an international student
    I’ll be on a 6month short term Visa by then
    I’ll be a graduate by then.

    1. Hi,
      The home office mentioned students who graduate from the summer of 2021 onwards will benefit from the new PSW route, the effective date has not been released. There are a few things that need to be mind:
      1. Students will benefit from this concession if they enter the UK before 6 April
      and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK.
      2. Must apply with current Student leave to remain.

  5. Hey, I am MSc accounting student in UK university. My visa has expired in Dec 2019 and I left UK. However, I have not completed my degree at that time and deferred due to Covid. Now I am still enrolling online and taking my exams from abroad. I don’t have visa for year 2020 and 2021. Moreover, I am expecting to graduate in Early 2022 from abroad via online. Will I be eligible candidate for post graduate visa.

  6. Hi I am Pranathi my course is completing in July 2021 on 26th my visa expires will I eligible for psw please help me
    How can I extend my visa to apply for psw

  7. Hi!
    I recently got offer for Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting starting this September. Will postgraduate diploma be eligible for PSW visa in the UK? Please reply.

    1. Hi Shaurya,

      The postgraduate diploma is a level 7 postgraduate level qualifications but is it not a degree-awarding program.

      According to UK Visa and Immigration’s requirements, The new Graduate Route (PSW) will be open to international students who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at an institution with a track record of compliance with the Home Office’s immigration rules.

  8. Hi,
    I am an international student studying MBA ( HR). I have completed 7 core modules and now doing project and my visa will expire on 31 May 2022 as stated on my BRP. Am I eligible for PSW 2021?


  9. I had worked in UK under PSW after completing studies 9 years before and return back to home country, now am planning to do another Masters degree (academic year 2021-22) in UK university.

    Will i eligible for Post study Work after studies ! Please suggest me

  10. Hi!
    I am an international student who graduated in September 2020 but due to covid, I will still have a valid student visa when the graduate route visa will be introduced. Will I be eligible for the post-study work visa? Please reply.

    1. Hi Lea,

      The eligibility requirements for the Graduate Route (post-study visa) have few criteria on the student’s previous course, duration and current location.

      You can refer to our UK Graduate Route Facts blog for more details on the eligibility requirements of the new UK Graduate Route.

  11. Hii…i am starting my msc. In international business in September 2021. Will i be eligible for psw.. please reply.

    1. Hi Abdul,

      Based on the information you provided, you are meeting the course requirement to eligible for the post graduate visa (graduate route). You are required to meet other requirements as well.
      You can find out more from our UK Graduate Route Facts blog post for the eligibility requirements.

  12. I had got PSW in 2010, but I came back to my country , now I am planning to pursue PHD, will be able to get PSW again.

    1. Hi Sabin,

      According to Graduate caseworker guidance released on 1 July 2021, If the applicants have previously been granted permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) or on the Graduate route, then the application must be rejected as invalid.

  13. Hi
    I came for my masters in a university in york. I didn’t do well in my exams. So my university is offering me a PG certificate. Will I be eligible to apply for post study work visa with a PG certificate?

    1. Hi Ana,

      If your PG certificate is referred to postgraduate diploma certificate, it might not meet the eligibility for the New Graduate Route.

      According to UK Visa and Immigration’s requirements, The new Graduate Route (PSW) will be open to international students who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at an institution with a track record of compliance with the Home Office’s immigration rules.

      The relevant degree course must be either:

      *an undergraduate degree
      *a Masters degree
      *a PhD degree or other doctoral qualification

      More information about the new Graduate Route can be found on the Home Office Website and UKCISA website.

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