Unlocking Career Opportunities for Graduates: Navigating UK Visa Options
The majority of universities have now finished their summer sessions, so recent graduates will be considering their next moves, including potential work prospects. Hiring recent grads can be a wonderful method for firms to fill skill gaps, but they must be aware of the available visa alternatives to make sure any potential employees have the proper authorization to work.
This blog focuses on the primary visa choices for graduates seeking a job after graduation who are currently on a student visa (or a Tier 4 visa under the previous immigration regulations), specifically the Graduate visa and Skilled Worker visa routes.
Exploring Work Opportunities on a Student Visa
Before going over the primary visa alternatives available to university graduates, it is important to emphasize that most people with student visas are able to work. This is limited to 20 hours per week during the academic year for students enrolled in full-time degree programs. They are eligible to work full-time, nevertheless, if they have finished their studies and it is not class time.
For recent grads, the expiration of their student visa is probably approaching. If they want to stay in the UK after this time, they must apply for a new visa before their current Student visa expires. Employers can yet engage fresh graduates on a full-time basis in the meantime if their student visas are still valid, they can give proof that the courses were completed, and they can put them on a temporary contract. A permanent contract cannot be offered to someone on a student visa.
The Pathway of the Graduate Visa
After successfully finishing their course of study, 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 have been earned at the bachelor’s level or higher in the UK at an approved institution.
The national minimum wage is the only pay requirement on this unsponsored route, hence employers are not required to get a sponsor license. The individual is free to work or hunt for work wherever they like and can engage in most occupations, including self-employment or volunteer work because the visa is not attached to any particular sort of employment or employer. As a result, unless they desire to, the employer is not required to be involved in the visa application process.
The maximum duration of the Graduate visa is two years for the majority of graduates and three years for Ph.D. grads. The Graduate Visa does not grant Indefinite Leave to Remain (settlement) in the UK and cannot be extended. But those with Graduate visas can later change to another form of visa, like a Skilled Worker visa.
Navigating with the Skilled Worker Visa
The other primary visa path that enables graduates to stay and work in the UK after completing their education is the Skilled Worker visa route (formerly known as the Tier 2 General visa).
Since the migrant’s employment is directly related to this visa, the company is required to have a sponsor license in order to be able to give the migrant a Certificate of Sponsorship. A minimum annual income of £26,200 is also required, or the going rate for the particular role, whichever is higher. In some cases, such as when an applicant is submitting an application as a “new entrant,” these criteria may be less strict.
The candidate must have successfully completed their studies in order to qualify for this visa. The skilled worker visa also has an English language requirement. But since possessing a degree that was taught in the UK is one way to satisfy this condition, it is likely that the applicant already satisfies it by virtue of having studied there.
The maximum duration of the skilled worker visa is five years, or four years if the applicant is a “new entrant” making their first application. Any visa length may be requested; these maximums are not restricted. Additionally, visas for skilled workers may be extended indefinitely and, after five years, may result in Indefinite Leave to Remain (settlement). Therefore, it is a fantastic choice for organizations who want to permanently recruit a new graduate.
Advice for Employers
Hiring fresh graduates has a number of advantages. For instance, graduates are likely to bring new ideas and perspectives to the table, which can be extremely helpful for business, particularly when it comes to addressing difficulties and skill gaps. They will probably be able to propose answers and be proactive with their proposals and ideas thanks to their new thoughts and methods of working. Recent grads will also probably be tech-savvy, quick learners, and adaptable—all of which may assist your business, regardless of size, to grow, expand, and prosper.
The Graduate Visa option is less expensive and more flexible if you are a company wishing to hire a recent university graduate, but it has limited validity and does not result in the employee’s settlement, so it is not a long-term fix. The skilled worker visa option, on the other hand, has additional compliance requirements because the employer must possess a sponsor license; nonetheless, this visa can be extended indefinitely and results in a settlement for the employee. Employers frequently choose the Graduate visa option in the near term with the intention of supporting exceptional performers for a Skilled Worker visa in the long run.
The main differences between the two visa types are outlined in the chart below.