How to obtain a UK Work VISA with a Master’s degree

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Obtaining a UK graduate work visa after your master’s degree can allow you to work in the United Kingdom for at least two years after your education. International students will not only get access to quality education and infrastructure, but they will also have access to work with global companies thereby improving their employability chances. 

If you’re looking forward to pursuing your master’s degree in the United Kingdom, then it’s important you also know about the UK graduate work visa which allows you to work legally in the country after your graduation. We’ll be exploring all you need to know about the United Kingdom graduate work visa in this article, to read more informative content like this one, subscribe to our newsletter now. 

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Who is eligible to apply for a UK graduate work visa?

For you to be eligible to apply for a graduate work visa in the United Kingdom, then you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must currently reside in the UK with a student visa.
  • Must have studied a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree, or other eligible courses for a minimum of 12 months with a student visa. 
  • The university/college you enrolled in should provide proof to the Home Office that shows that you have completed the course.

Why should you apply for a UK graduate work visa?

Some of the benefits you stand to gain when you have a graduate work visa in the United Kingdom include: 

  • You get to stay and work in the United Kingdom for 2 years or 3 years (if you have a PhD or any other doctoral qualification). 
  • Additionally, your partner or children can also come in as dependents on your visa application if they stay with you during your studies. 
  • You can decide to either look for a job, volunteer, or choose to be self-employed.

Conditions attached to the UK Graduate Work Visa

When you’re finally granted your visa, you’re expected to obey the conditions listed below: 

  • Holders are not allowed to bring in new dependants 
  • It is only possible to be granted permission under the Graduate route once.
  • Holders cannot apply for public funds or the State Pension.
  • Holders cannot work as a professional sports person.
  • Holders are allowed to take up extra study but will be unable to study with a student-sponsored course that meets the requirements of a UK student visa. Additionally, they will not be allowed to study at a state school.

Eligible Degrees for a UK Graduate Work Visa

For you to qualify to apply for a work visa in the United Kingdom, you must have finished one of the following degrees or courses: 

  • Bachelor’s Degree.
  • Master’s Degree.
  • Ph.D. or higher doctoral degree in any field.
  • A law conversion course approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
  • Legal Practice Course in England or Wales.
  • Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland.
  • A professional legal practice diploma in Scotland.
  • Bar Practice Course in England and Wales, or Bar Course in Northern Ireland.
  • Foundation program in medicine or dentistry.
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education.
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Education.
  • Any course regulated by UK law or a UK public body.

Read now: How To Obtain A U.S. Work Permit With A Master’s Degree

Documents needed for the UK Graduate Work Visa

Below is the list of the documents needed to apply for a work visa in the United Kingdom: 

  • A valid passport.
  • Your biometric residence permit, if you received one when you applied for your student visa or general work visa.
  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number when you applied for a student visa.

Depending on your situation, you may need to provide the following documents:

  • Proof of your relationship with your partner and children if they are applying with you. You are expected to provide a marriage or civil partnership certificate, joint bank statements/joint financial statements, utility bills, or local taxation evidence
  • A letter from your scholarship or sponsorship provider approving your application.

NOTE: If your documents are not in the English language, you’ll need to provide a certified translation of your documents if they are not in English or Welsh.

Read now: How To Process Your Luxembourg Work Visa In 2024 (Types Of Work Visas)

Applying for the UK Graduate Work Visa?

The first step in applying for a UK graduate work visa is to visit the official website and complete the online application form. The application process is as follows: 

  • Upload the requested documents: You will be asked to upload a list of required documents to complete the online application. The document format can be in PNG, JPG, JPEG, or PDF.  
  • Payment of fees: after uploading the requested documents, you’ll be asked to pay the required application fees.  You are to pay both the healthcare surcharge and the application fee when applying online.
  • Confirmation of identity:  If you have a biometric residence permit (BRP), you can download the scan of your biometric residence permit (BRP) with the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app. You will also provide your data and scan your BRP.
  • Book and attend an appointment: afterward, you will have to book and attend an appointment at the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVACS) to provide your biometrics if you don’t have a BRO. You can schedule this appointment as you apply. 
  • Provision of additional documents: Sometimes, you might be asked to provide any additional documents. You can either provide it online or submit it when you attend the UKVCAS appointment.

NOTE: Candidates from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Lichtenstein, can scan their passports instead. However, if they cannot scan their BRP or passport with the app, then they must get their fingerprints and photograph taken at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services service point.

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Biometric Residence Permit

Candidates who have provided their fingerprints and photos at a visa application center will get a biometric residence permit. If you apply from within the UK, your BRP will be sent to you by courier within seven to ten days of getting your decision letter from the Home Office. A BRP proves your right to:

  • Study
  • Identity
  • Right to any public services or benefits

When should I apply for a UK Graduate Work Visa?

Additionally, you must apply for a graduate work visa before your student visa expires. Application can start once your university/college has told the Home Office about the completion of your course. Note that your application will require that you prove your identity and provide your documents. 

What is the duration of the visa?

The UK Graduate Work visa is valid for two years. However, if you have a PhD or other doctoral qualification, it is valid for three years. If you want to stay longer, you have to switch to another visa.

Read also: A Step-By-Step Guide To Selecting The Right Study Abroad Program.

Is it possible to Extend the UK Graduate Work Visa?

Once the validity expires, you cannot extend the visa. However, you can switch to another visa like the UK Skilled Worker Visa but ensure that you meet the requirements. 

How can I switch to a different visa? 

If you get a job, you must meet the eligibility requirements of the visa type you’re switching to. Once you confirm that you qualify, you’ll submit another visa application via the UK Government Website and UKVACS.

How much does the UK Graduate Work Visa Cost?

Below is a breakdown of the visa cost:

  1. Application fee: £822
  2. Healthcare surcharge for two years: £2,070
  3. Healthcare surcharge for three years: £3,105

NOTE: If you’re a medical personnel, you can check if you’re eligible to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa instead. This is cheaper than the graduate work visa and you will not need to pay the annual immigration health surcharge. 

How long does it take to process the visa? 

After completing your application, you should get a response within 8 weeks to know if your visa has been approved. 

Can I Obtain ILR With a Graduate Visa?

You cannot obtain identified leave to remain (ILR) on the UK Graduate Work Visa. However, the following visas allow you to obtain the ILR after staying for the required number of years:

  • Skilled Worker visa
  • Global Talent
  • Innovator visa
  • Health and Care visa
  • Scale-up visa
  • International Sportsperson visa
  • Family visa. 

Read also: Here’s All You Need To Know About Studying Abroad.

Can I Bring My Family Members?

If your partner and children join you with your current student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa, then they can apply to stay as dependents on your Graduate Work Visa. A dependent partner or child is any of the following:

  • Your husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner.
  • Your child under 18 – including if they were born in the UK during your stay.
  • Your child over 18 if they are living in the UK as your dependent.
  • If you have a child when you are in the UK, you must apply for a dependent visa so you can travel in and out of the nation with them.

Start With Us

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MPower Finance and Prodigy Finance are some of the best student loan providers for international students. They also do not require a cosigner or collateral before an application. Reach out to us today, and let’s help you begin the process. 


  • Mercy Awofiranye is a creative writer with over five years of experience. Currently, she specializes in creating helpful content for students in the education space. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and learning new things.