Return of the Two-Year Post-Study Work Visa

03 Oct 2019, 26 mins ago

As noted previously, this policy would put the UK on a par with Canada and the US, where students are allowed to stay for three years after graduation. Home Secretary Priti Patel, British High Commissioner to India Sir Asquith, and the Prime Minister himself have made several statements supporting the reversal of Theresa May’s abolition of the visa seven years ago.

The new “Graduate” route will be open to all international students holding valid UK immigration status as students in the UK. Although details have not been released and it is unclear who will be eligible, the Department of Education have announced that the new route would apply to students who “start courses in 2020/2021 at undergraduate level or above”. This category will apply to “any career or position of their choice, for two years after completing their studies”. It is still unknown if this will be a route requiring sponsorship or whether the universities would act as the sponsors for their graduates seeking to stay and work in the UK.

So what are the current options for international students who wish to work in the UK?

As the law currently stands, if you are a student on a Tier 4 (General) Student visa and would like to work in the UK, you could either switch in-country to a Tier 2 (General) or Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa. Otherwise, you will be required to leave the UK before the expiry of your Tier 4 visa and apply for a visa from outside the UK.

Here is a brief overview of the Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa categories:

Tier 2 (General)

International students can switch to this category in-country if they have been offered a skilled job in the UK. The applicants may apply for this visa provided they are sponsored by a UK company which holds a valid and active sponsor licence. They must also meet the minimum salary requirement in line with the role they have been offered. Applicants may apply for up to 5 years, depending on the length of their prospective role.  

Tier 5 Temporary Worker visa

International students can switch to the Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa to undertake a period of paid work experience with a UK company or by an approved endorsing body. Applicants may apply in-country for periods of up to 24 months, depending on the scheme applied for, provided that the requirements are met.

Gherson has extensive experience advising and assisting with Tier 2 (General) visas and Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange).  Should you require any assistance, please contact us, send us an e-mail, or alternatively, follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2019


Toska Fernandez 

  Toska Fernandez

  Paralegal in our General and Corporate Teams