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UK Allows 2 year Stay Back for International Graduates: Scrapes off Study Visa Restrictions

Bhavya Rawal Bhavya Rawal
Study Abroad Expert

Starting in 2021, International students can stay in the UK 2 years after completing their degree program. A recent update in Student Visa policies from the UK government allows Non-EU Students applying in the UK 2 year extended stay to find work.


  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reinstates the 2-year visa extension for overseas students after graduation.
  • UK plans to enroll 600,000 international students every year by 2030
  • International students contribute nearly £32 billion to the UK economy
  • A majority of the overseas students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate courses are eligible to work up to only 4 months after graduation.
  • While the students on a pilot visa may stay and work up to 6 months.

The UK government on Wednesday announced a transform in its higher education sector by bringing back the 2-year post study work permit for international students. The new plan will mutually benefit international students and the UK economy.

The approach has primarily been adopted to increase the present number of international students from 460,000 to 600,000, every academic year by the end of 2030.

Latest Transformations in the UK’s 4-tier Student Visa

International candidates, irrespective of their level(UG, PG, Doctoral) or subject of study, can stay back for up to two years upon degree completion and work/look for work in the UK.

After the implementation of this policy, both the undergraduate and postgraduate students will be eligible to avail a post-study leave of 6 months and look for a job opportunity. However, doctoral students will have a longer post-study leave of 1 year.

Furthermore, there will be no upper limit to accept the number of visa applications, encouraging maximum number of students to choose the UK for higher education.

Impact on International Students & UK Universities

An influx of international students from India, Nepal, and other developing countries can be predicted in the upcoming years as a result of the changes brought forward. Despite being one of the top destinations among foreign students, the UK has seen a downfall in the number of international students.

In response to the decision, Universities UK Chief Executive, Alistor Jarvis expressed great joy, he further commented, “Evidence shows that international students bring significant positive social outcomes to the UK as well as £26 billion in economic contributions, but for too long the lack of post-study work opportunities in the UK has put us at a competitive disadvantage in attracting those students.”

This amendment in the UK’s visa policy is going to be highly advantageous for Indian students. Not only would it make the UK an attractive destination for international students, but employers would also be benefited with the option to hire talented graduates from across the globe.

In the year 2011, the number of incoming Indian students dropped sharply by 55%, i.e, from 51,218 (2010-2011) to 22,757 (2011-2012). The number kept decreasing further and reached down to 15,388 in the year 2017-2018.

Universities in the UK have long been struggling to bring about changes in the post-study work visa regulations. The country’s University leaders in 2018 proposed to bring forward a new visa that would allow international students to gain work experience in the UK for up to two years.

With countries such as Australia and Canada allowing 4 and 3 year post-study work permit for international students respectively, it is not surprising that the UK has decided to catch up.

How is the UK’s New Post-study Visa Policy Different?

The new policy by Boris Johnson (UK Prime Minister) brings about a turnaround in the controversial decision made in 2012 by Theresa May, who was then the home secretary. The decision was implemented to control the immigrant population in the UK. However, this put UK universities at a disadvantage.

Contrary to the 4-month stay back permitted for international students previously, now students from other countries are granted a 2 year work permit upon completion of their degree course. The 4-month stay back, a major block road for international employment among UK firms and employers, will now be removed.

Graduates would be able to work and look for work without any hassle created by immigration policies. Moreover, companies are bound to get more welcoming towards international human resources that can stick around for longer.

A tier 4 Visa is generally issued to full-time international students in UK universities. This Visa in the upcoming years will allow Indian as well as other international students to look for job prospects and work for 2 years post study.

Students can apply for an extension of their visa 3 months prior to the completion of their graduation. Irrespective of the level of study, students will be able to apply for a work visa 3 months prior to the completion of their studies and get their student visa converted to work visa.

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