Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog! My name is Parwez, originally from Mauritius, and I came to London, UK as an international student on the Tier 4 (General) student visa in 2018 to pursue my studies in BSc (Hons) Mathematics. Upon the successful completion of my degree in 2021, I switched my visa from the Tier 4 to the 2-years Graduate visa (in other words, the Post Study Work visa). This allowed me to look for a full-time job without the need of being sponsored by the company, and I am currently working at Bays Consulting Ltd as a Data Scientist.
While I was still deciding about whether or not to come to the UK prior to 2018, I was sometimes being told by people that it would be a waste of money and/or time because it would be hard to find a job in the UK after my studies (the graduate visa was not yet implemented at that time). But I followed my gut instincts and came to this wonderful city where I had (and am still having) such a wonderful experience which is really life-changing.
So what exactly is the Graduate visa?
It is a visa open to all international students who have a valid UK immigration status, and have successfully completed their studies at undergraduate level or above at an approved Higher Education Provider in the UK. The visa will allow the eligible person to work, or look for a job at any level or subject, and therefore giving them the opportunity to gain valuable international work experience at the start of their careers.
The requirements for the Graduate visa are as follows:
- the person must be in the UK
- the person must be on a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
- the person must have completed a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree, or any other eligible course in the minimum period of time with his/her Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
- proof from the education provider (such as university or college) of the successful completion of the course undertaken
The duration of the Graduate visa is as follows:
- Undergraduate/Postgraduate degree – 2 years
- PhD or other doctoral qualification – 3 years
When I got my official results from the university in the summer of 2021, since I met the above criteria, I decided to apply for the Graduate visa. At first, I was not too sure what to do. I went online and did some quick research. My first search keywords were the classic “apply for the graduate visa”. The right link, it turned out, was the very first one in the search result!
After triple-checking my eligibility and the required documents, I decided to give it a go myself since the process looked fairly straight-forward. Having my passport, BRP (Biometric Residence Permit), and CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) reference number ready (you can always contact your university to get your CAS number in case you do not have it anymore), I did the online application.
In case someone has got any dependents, they should check the requirements and the application must be done separately.
After completing the application process, you should normally get a response within 8 weeks. You must also return your old and redundant BRP to the Home Office. I personally got my positive response after slightly more than 8 weeks due to large volumes of applications at that time and also due to COVID-19.
Getting the Graduate visa
For the visa itself, I got an e-visa instead of having to physically send my passport to the Home Office. This did not affect my ability to go back home and see my family in December 2021 as it is a multi-entry visa. Your immigration status can easily be checked on the system by the officers at the UK borders. I also pay tax and national insurance in the UK so have access to everything a UK Citizen would have.
The graduate visa should be one of the top reasons for students to come and study in the UK. First of all, it is almost guaranteed that whoever comes in the UK for further studies, they will not return back to their home country with a very expensive piece of paper (i.e., degree certificate) in case they did not secure a job from a licensed sponsor after having successfully completed their studies. They will be able to do any job, at any company in the UK, and without any restrictions over the duration of the visa.
A good practice would be to have the Graduate route in mind as from the very start and work towards it. Extra-curricular activities such as volunteering or summer internships (or even self learning activities that might be useful later on) definitely help in securing a job quicker and therefore not spending too much of the 2 years time in the job-hunting process.
I was surprised that the application process would be so straight-forward. The hardest part for me was probably waiting for their response. From my personal experience so far, at the time that I am writing this blog, I can confirm that after about 6 months on the Graduate visa, switching to this visa was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. It has been great to be working at Bays Consulting Ltd, where there is a healthy work culture and where I am constantly learning new things. When my Graduate visa expires, I will look to stay in the UK by applying for the Skilled Workers visa.
So, good luck to everyone who is planning to go down that route. Setting the right goals, working towards those goals, and consistency is the key. Cheers!