Can International Students Stay in the UK After Graduation?

It’s the end of your school year, and you’re about to bag a degree. You sit down, relax, unwind, and think about all you’ve encountered throughout your program.

You smile, and a look of fulfillment adorns your face. Then when you begin to dig deeper in thoughts about the next phase of your life, a myriad of juxtaposing emotions engulf you.

You think about how to develop yourself and push further…how to reach for the skies, as some call it. Thoughts of whether to go back to your homeland or remain then creep in.

You begin to wonder if international graduates in the UK can stay after graduating. Then, in search of an answer, you delve into research.

Key Takeaways 

Studying abroad is quite a catch, but the real deal is remaining there. Not many solely desire to study and return. International students mostly wish to reside in search of job opportunities. Some even take up volunteering jobs or seek sponsorship to remain in the UK.

International students in the UK can now apply for a graduate visa with which they can work and extend the period of their stay. This type of visa typically lasts for 2 or 3 years. However, if one still wishes to remain after this period, the student can apply for a different kind of visa, possibly a healthcare or skilled worker visa, to do so.

Are International Students Allowed to Reside in the UK After Graduating?

Yes, international students can remain in the UK after graduation. However, to do so, they have to change their visa from a tier 4 or student visa to a work-related visa.

Formerly, the post-study work visa allowed students to stay for two years, but the government canceled it in 2012. After this cancellation, foreign students were only allowed to stay for four months.

However, since 2021, the policy has been reverted in more recent times, and students can once more remain in the UK for two years. Whether you’ve gained a job, you can apply for a graduate visa to facilitate your stay.

A graduate visa is your permit to remain in the UK for two years or more upon completing your degree. For example, if you have a Ph.D. or doctoral degree, you can reside for three years.

To apply for the graduate visa, you have to be in the UK when processing your application. You have a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree alongside a student or tier four visa.

Before applying, endeavor to confirm that the home office is aware that you have finished your course. You can consult your educational institutions to determine if they’ve informed the home office.

The application is made online. You can begin once you’ve confirmed that the home office is aware of your progress. It costs roughly £1400and your family can also apply if they’re eligible. Results will be out within eight weeks, and if you’re not eligible for this, you can extend your stay through a different kind of visa. For example, after the expiration of your graduate visa, you can extend your stay with a skilled worker visa.

Can Online Students Apply for a Graduate Visa?

In this era of digitalization, e-learning is now a common phenomenon. As students attend physical colleges/universities, lots more pursue their studies online. Some may have even been a part of physical classes till the advent of  COVID 19. 

If you’re an online student of a UK educational institution, you’ll also want to know if you can reside and work in the UK after graduation. The answer is yes, though, with conditions attached. There is a graduate visa for online students who can travel to the UK before completing their course. 

The reason is that they need to complete their final semester in the UK. Also, they need to be present during the time of application as it is one of the criteria for eligibility. If their application is approved, they will also get to reside for two or three years, depending on the degree they’ve obtained.

Read: Can International Students Work in the Uk After Graduation?


The United Kingdom has an extensive portfolio of international students, second only to the USA. After graduation, not all students would like to return, as is often the case. Many would love an opportunity to remain in the UK, get a job, gain experience and improve their skills. The major reason fueling this decision to stay is the lack of meaningful job opportunities in their countries.

In the past, the UK allowed students to stay on the condition that they get a post-study work visa. The government scrapped this policy in 2012. However, since 2021, there has been a change. Now international students can remain in the UK for two years after graduation.