Exploring Visa Choices for Recent University Graduates in the UK

Graduate Career Opportunities: Understanding UK Visa Options

Since most institutions have ended their summer courses, recent graduates will be thinking about their next steps, including possible employment opportunities. Employing recent graduates may be a great way for businesses to address skill gaps, but they must be aware of the many visa options to ensure that any potential workers have the right to work.

This blog focuses on the two main visa options for graduates who are currently on student visas (or Tier 4 visas under the previous immigration restrictions) and are looking for employment following graduation, especially the Graduate visa and Skilled Worker visa paths.

Investigating Employment Options While on a Student Visa

Prior to discussing the main visa options open to university graduates, it is crucial to stress that the majority of those on student visas are able to find employment. For students enrolling in full-time degree programs throughout the academic year, this is restricted to 20 hours per week. However, if they have finished their education and it is not class time, they are qualified to work full-time.

The student visa’s expiry date is definitely coming up for recently graduated individuals. They must apply for a new visa before their existing Student visa expires if they want to remain in the UK after this period. If their student visas are still valid, they may provide documentation showing that the courses were finished, and they can be placed on a temporary contract, employers can still hire recent graduates on a full-time basis in the meantime. A person with a student visa cannot be given a permanent job.

How to Apply for a Graduate Visa

With the aid of the Graduate visa route, foreigners can live and work in the UK for up to two to three years after successfully completing their term of study. Their degree must have been obtained in the UK at a recognized institution at the bachelor’s degree level or above. Employers are not needed to get a sponsor license because there is no other pay obligation on this unsponsored route other than the national minimum wage. Because the visa is not tied to any specific profession or employer, the individual is free to work or look for work wherever they want and can engage in most vocations, including self-employment or volunteer work. As a result, the employer is not obligated to be involved in the visa application process unless they so want.

For the majority of graduates, the Graduate Visa’s maximum term is two years, whereas it is three years for Ph.D. graduates. The Graduate Visa cannot be renewed and does not provide Indefinite Leave to Remain (settlement) in the UK. However, those with graduate visas can subsequently switch to another type of visa, such as a skilled worker visa.

Using the Skilled Worker Visa: How to Get Around

The Skilled Worker visa route (formerly known as the Tier 2 General visa) is the other main visa route that allows graduates to remain and work in the UK after finishing their study.

The business must possess a sponsor license in order to be able to provide the immigrant with a Certificate of Sponsorship because the immigrant’s work is directly tied to this visa. Also necessary is a minimum yearly income of £26,200, or the going rate for the specific position, whichever is higher. In some circumstances, such as when an applicant submits an application as a “new entrant,” these requirements could be less stringent.

To be eligible for this visa, the applicant must have successfully finished their studies. There is an additional English language requirement for the skilled worker visa. But because one method to meet this requirement is to have a degree that was taught in the UK, it’s possible that the applicant already does so by virtue of having gone to school there.

The skilled worker visa has a maximum stay of five years, or four years if it is being applied for by a “new entrant” for the first time. There is no restriction on these maximum visa lengths; any duration may be requested. Additionally, skilled worker visas are subject to perpetual renewal and, after five years, settlement (indefinite leave to remain). As a result, it is a great option for businesses looking to hire a recent graduate on a permanent basis.

Suggestions for Employers

There are several benefits to hiring recent grads. For example, graduates are probably going to bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table, which can be quite beneficial for company, especially when it comes to solving challenges and skill gaps. As a result of their fresh ideas and approaches to work, they will probably be able to offer solutions and be proactive with their suggestions and ideas. Recent graduates are also likely to be tech-savvy, quick learners, and adaptable—qualities that might help any size of business grow, develop, and succeed.

If you are a firm looking to recruit a recent graduate from a university, the Graduate Visa option is less expensive and more flexible, but it has a limited period of validity and does not result in the employee’s settlement, so it is not a long-term solution. However, this visa may be renewed indefinitely and results in a settlement for the employee. In contrast, the skilled worker visa option has more compliance requirements because the firm must hold a sponsor license.

Employers usually opt for Graduate visas in the short term with the goal of helping exceptional performers in their long-term application for a Skilled Worker visa.

The following graphic lists the key distinctions between the two types of visas.

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