Can I Work While Waiting for Graduate Visa

Can I Work While Waiting for Graduate Visa

The Graduate visa can take up to two months to be issued, so rather than twiddling your thumbs, why not work, study or travel? Well, there are some limits on what you can and can’t do while waiting for your Graduate visa; we’ll look into them now.

What Is the Graduate Visa?

What Is the Graduate Visa?

The UK Graduate visa is a type of visa introduced by the UK government to allow international students who have completed their degree in the UK to remain in the country and work or look for work for a period of up to two years after graduation. Graduates of doctorates are permitted up to three years in the UK on a Graduate visa. This visa is designed to provide an opportunity for recent graduates to gain work experience and potentially secure employment in the UK.

All applicants must be in the UK when they apply, and:

  • Be in the UK legally on a Student visa (formerly Tier 4 Student visa)
  • Have studied a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or postgraduate degree in the UK

Your university or college must tell the Home Office – the ministerial department of the UK government responsible for immigration, security, and law and order – that you have completed your course. You don’t have to wait until your graduation ceremony or until you receive your certificate of graduation, but the Home Office must be informed of your completion of studies before you apply for a Graduate visa.

How Do You Apply for a Graduate Visa?

How Do You Apply for a Graduate Visa?

While applicants must be in the UK on a Student visa and have completed their course at the time of their application, they must have sufficient time left on their Student visa to apply for the Graduate visa and remain in the UK until they receive a response. Responses are usually given within 8 weeks, so it’s best to prepare your documents in advance and apply for the Graduate visa as soon as possible after completing your studies to ensure you have enough time remaining on your visa for your new visa to be issued.

To apply for the Graduate visa, you’ll need to submit an online application, pay the application fee of £822, and submit supporting documents including:

  • a valid passport
  • your biometric residence permit (BRP), if you were given one for your Student visa
  • your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number from your Student visa

You’ll also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is usually £1,035 for each year you have permission to stay in the UK. Your dependants can stay in the UK with you, but they must also pay the application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge. From 2024, only research-based postgraduate (PhD) students can bring their dependents to the UK with them while they study; if your children or partner aren’t already with you in the UK, they cannot join you while you stay longer with your Graduate visa.

What You Can Do While You Wait for Your Visa

It may not always take 8 weeks to receive your Graduate visa, however, it’s best to assume it will take the maximum length of processing time so you can plan accordingly. After studying, you’ll probably want a break, so the time between finishing your course and receiving your Graduate visa is perfect for exploring the UK. However, while you wait for your Graduate visa, you cannot leave the UK or your visa application will be revoked, so if you plan to travel, you must stay within the UK (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands).

Life in the UK can be expensive, so if you don’t have the means or inclination to take a trip in the UK while you wait, you can instead work. Student visas allow part-time work during term time and full-time work outside of term time. So if you are over 18 and have completed your BA, MA or PhD course, you can work full-time while you’re waiting for your Graduate visa as this is considered outside of term time.

Under 18s can also work full-time, however, their hours are more limited and they cannot apply for a Graduate visa.

Student visas also have restrictions on what jobs visa holders can do, so bear this in mind when looking to work before your Graduate visa is issued. For example, Student visa holders cannot be self-employed, but Graduate visa holders can, and neither Student nor Graduate visa holders can work as professional sportspeople.

When you receive your Graduate visa, you can:

  • Work full-time or part-time
  • Look for work
  • Be self-employed
  • Do voluntary work
  • Travel to and from the UK

You cannot extend a Graduate visa, so towards the end of your visa, you should look to switch to a different visa if you want to continue living in the UK.

Switching Visas in the UK

Switching Visas in the UK

You can easily switch visas in the UK if you’re staying on a long-term visa, rather than leaving the UK and applying from abroad – although usually it’s more expensive and can take longer to process visa applications from within the UK.

If you have a job that qualifies on the list of eligible occupations for the Skilled Worker visa while you’re studying in the UK with a Student visa, you can simply switch to a Skilled Worker visa once you’ve graduated. If not, but you would like to work in one of the eligible occupations, you should apply for the Graduate visa and apply for jobs while in the UK. You can then apply to switch to the Skilled Worker visa before your Graduate visa expires.

To apply for a Skilled Worker visa, you need:

  • a job offer for a position on the list of eligible occupations
  • a job offer from an approved UK employer (sponsor)
  • a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer detailing your proposed role
  • evidence that your position will meet the minimum salary requirements for the visa

The minimum salary requirement for the Skilled Worker visa is going to rise in Spring 2024 from £26,200 to £38,700 a year for applicants, so if you’re looking to switch to a Skilled Worker visa now, make sure your future employer is prepared to pay the new salary.

Skilled Worker visas include jobs in a variety of industries from banking to hospitality, however, they are usually for more senior positions such as financial executives and hotel managers, so check you have the appropriate skills and experience before applying for sponsorship.

Staying Permanently in the UK

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as settlement or permanent residency is granted to individuals who have lived in the UK with valid visas for a specified period of time, which changes according to the visa. The Graduate visa does not count towards your time in the UK, nor does your Student visa. So if you wish to gain ILR, you would need to switch to a Skilled Worker visa and remain in the UK, meeting the relevant conditions to apply for ILR and gain residence in the UK.

Generally, for ILR, you need to remain in the UK for 5 years, without spending more than 450 days in total, and more than 180 days in the 12 months before your application outside of the UK. You also need to meet the English language requirement, financial requirements and pass the Life in the UK test. After 12 months with ILR, you can then apply for British citizenship if you wish to stay in the UK with full rights as a British citizen and have the chance to have a British passport.

If you don’t apply for ILR, you can extend your Skilled Worker visa before your current visa expires.

The Innovator Founder visa is another possible option for working in the UK; you need a viable, innovative and scalable business idea approved by an endorsing body for your application to succeed, but if successful, you’ll be granted 3 years residency in the UK, after which you can apply directly for ILR.

Need Visa Help? Ask Synergy Immigration Solutions

The expert team at Synergy Immigration Solutions are here to help anyone with UK visa needs! Contact us today to learn more, read our privacy notice to see how we process your information, or take a look at another blog, like the Complex Path to Sponsorship.

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