Can I get a work permit after studying in the UK?

Zorica Lončar

If you’ve been studying in the UK and are coming to the end of your course, you’ll be starting to think about what happens next. One of the options could be to stay in the UK, but you’ll need to sort a work permit or visa.

In this guide, we’ll cover all the essentials you need to know about the UK Graduate visa. This includes eligibility, how to apply and how much it costs.

Let’s start with a quick overview of what the UK Graduate visa actually is.

What is the UK graduate visa?

The UK offers a special Graduate visa for students. This gives you permission to stay in the UK for up to two years once you’ve completed your course¹.

This visa is only for students who studied in the UK, and you must still be in the UK when you apply¹.

If your visa application is successful, you’ll be able to¹:

  • Work in most jobs, or be self-employed
  • Do voluntary work
  • Travel abroad and return to the UK
  • Continue living in the UK with your partner and children (if eligible).

Post-study work visa eligibility

There are certain criteria you’ll need to meet in order to apply for the UK Graduate visa. These include the following¹:

  • You must successfully complete a UK bachelor’s degree, post-graduate degree or other eligible course.
  • You have studied in the UK for at least 12 months or the total length of your course².
  • Your education provider must tell the Home Office that you’ve successfully completed your course.
  • You must have a valid Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa.
  • You’re still in the UK when you apply.

How long can you stay in the UK on this visa?

Graduates of most UK courses will be able to stay in the UK for a further two years if their visa application is successful¹.

For graduates of PhD or other doctoral qualification courses, the maximum period of time you can stay is extended to three years¹.

This time period starts from the day you receive confirmation that your visa application has been approved.

How to apply for a UK graduate visa

The only way to apply for this visa is online¹, through the UK Government website. You’ll need to provide a number of supporting documents, including³:

  • A valid passport or other travel document that proves your identity
  • Your biometric residence permit (BRP) - you’ll be given this when applying for your student visa
  • Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number - your education provider will send you this when offering you a place on the course.

If your partner and/or children are applying with you, additional documents may be needed to prove your relationship.

Once you’ve submitted your application, it should take around 8 weeks to get a decision⁴.

How much does it cost to apply for a UK Graduate visa?

There are some fees to pay to apply for the UK Graduate visa.

The initial application fee is £715, and you’ll also need to pay a healthcare surcharge of around £624 for every year you’ll be in the UK. So, if you’re staying 2 years, this works out at an additional £1,248⁵.

Wise - the best way to manage your money as an international graduate living in the UK

As an international student and then a graduate living in the UK, you’ll need a convenient, affordable way to manage your money between countries. After all, you may need to receive money from family to support your studies, or pay bills back home.

Open a Wise multi-currency account online and you can send money worldwide, for low fees and the mid-market exchange rate. Better still, you can receive money from another country for free (depending on the currency).

You can manage and convert 50+ currencies from one easy-to-manage account, and spend in 200 countries with the Wise debit card. So whether you’re visiting home, travelling worldwide or spending in the UK, you can do it all with Wise.

Join Wise today

Sources used for this article:

  1. - Graduate visa
  2. - Graduate route visa
  3. - Graduate visa documents
  4. - Graduate visa apply
  5. - cost

Sources checked on 18-05-2022.

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money without borders

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location