UK Visa Options

UK Visa Options for Recent University Graduates

Most universities have already finished their summer courses, so recent graduates will be considering their next steps, including potential job prospects. Hiring recent graduates can be a great method for businesses to fill skills gaps, but they need to be aware of the visa alternatives available to ensure all potential employees have the proper work authorization. UK Visa Options blog focuses on the primary visa choices for graduates seeking work after graduation who are currently on a student visa (or Tier 4 visa under previous immigration regulations), namely graduate visas and skilled worker visas.

Researching job opportunities on a student visa

Before moving on to the primary visa alternatives available to university graduates, it is important to point out that most people on student visas can work. This is limited to 20 hours per week during the academic year for students enrolled in full-time study programmes. However, they can work full-time if they have completed their studies and it is not a teaching hour.

Fresh graduates are probably nearing the end of their student visa. If they wish to remain in the UK after this time, they must apply for a new visa before their current student visa expires. In the meantime, employers can hire fresh graduates full-time if their student visas are still valid, they can prove that they have completed the courses and they can sign them on a fixed-term contract. On a student visa the permanent contract cannot be offered.

The path to a postgraduate visa

After successfully completing their studies, immigrants can live and work in the UK for up to two to three years with the help of the graduate visa route. Their degree must be obtained at bachelor’s level or above in the UK from an approved institution.

The National Minimum Wage is the only salary requirement on this unsponsored journey, so employers are not required to obtain a sponsorship licence. An individual is free to work or look for work wherever they like and can pursue most occupations, including self-employment or volunteer work, as the visa is not tied to any particular type of job or employer. As a result, the employer does not need to be involved in the visa application process if they do not wish to do so.

The maximum period of validity of the Graduate visa is two years for most graduates and three years for Ph.D. degrees. A graduate visa does not grant indefinite leave to remain (settlement) in the UK and cannot be extended. But those on graduate visas can later switch to another form of visa, such as a skilled worker visa.

Navigation with a visa for skilled workers

Another primary visa route that allows graduates to stay and work in the UK after completing their education is the Skilled Worker visa route (formerly known as the general Tier 2 visa).

Since the migrant’s employment is directly related to this visa, the company must have a sponsorship license to issue a certificate of sponsorship to the migrant. A minimum annual income of £26,200 or the normal rate for the specific role, whichever is higher, is also required. In some cases, such as when an applicant is applying as a “new entrant”, these criteria may be less stringent.

The applicant must have successfully completed their studies in order to obtain this visa. The skilled worker visa also requires the English language. But as having a degree that was taught in the UK is one way to meet this condition, it is likely that the applicant already meets it by virtue of having studied there.

The maximum period of validity of a skilled worker visa is five years, or four years if the applicant is a “new entrant” making their first application. Any length of visa may be required; these maximums are not limited. In addition, skilled worker visas can be extended indefinitely and after five years can result in unlimited leave (settlement). Therefore, it is a fantastic choice for organizations looking to permanently employ a new graduate.

Advice for employers

Employing recent graduates has a number of advantages. For example, graduates are likely to bring new ideas and perspectives to the table, which can be very useful for business, especially when it comes to solving problems and skills gaps. They are likely to be able to suggest answers and be proactive with their suggestions and ideas due to their new thinking and working methods. Recent graduates are also likely to be tech-savvy, quick learners and adaptable – all of which can help your business grow, expand and prosper, regardless of size.

The Graduate Visa option is cheaper and more flexible if you’re a company looking to hire a recent college graduate, but it’s limited in validity and doesn’t lead to employee settlement, so it’s not a long-term fix. The skilled worker visa option, on the other hand, has additional compliance requirements as the employer must hold a sponsorship license; however, this visa can be extended indefinitely and leads to employee compensation. Employers often choose the Graduate visa option in the near term with the intention of supporting exceptional artists in the long term to obtain a skilled worker visa.

UK Visa Options

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