Understanding Graduate Visa Sponsorship

Katherine Fry
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Sponsorships and visas for international students can often be hard to understand. The UK has a points-based immigration system for international students, and from January 2021, this applies to nationals from the EU, EEA and Switzerland and the rest of the world too. Students often have a lot of questions surrounding whether companies offer sponsorships and how they go about finding out. So, we have listed and answered a few questions you may have!


What are they?

Visa sponsorship is when a singular person, or an organisation/company decides to take responsibility for your visa process in a particular country. This will mean that they become your visa sponsors and therefore will be submitting a petition to their government to let you come into their country. This will also mean they are responsible for you whilst you are in the country.

Similarly, a job with visa sponsorship is when a company is willing to sponsor your visa process whilst hiring you. During the employment process, it is good to discuss with your employer the specifics of the visa sponsorship they are offering.

A graduate visa allows you to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing a course in the UK. They last for 3 years for those who have completed a PhD. However, you must be living/staying in the UK when you apply for one.


Are you eligible for a sponsorship?

Your eligibility will depend on the type of visa you are applying for. It is important to visit the UK Government website to check their eligibility requirements: https://www.gov.uk/graduate-visa/course-you-studied.

However, the main criteria for a graduate visa include:

  • You are in the UK
  • Your current visa is a student visa or a tier 4 student visa
  • You studied a UK Bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree, or another eligible course for a minimum period of time with your tier 4 visa
  • Your education provider has told the Home Office that you’ve successfully completed the course

Your graduate visa application will also be assessed by the Home Office, but you will need to acquire a certain number of ‘points’ for your application to be successful. These points are given based on skills, experience, age and the salary of job offer. The dependence on how the points are awarded depend on the type of visa, and the length of time you are applying for.


How does it work?

A graduate visa will allow those who have completed a UK degree to work and secure employment within most jobs and roles in the UK. You can also work on a self-employed basis with a graduate visa, and take up voluntary work whilst still being able to return to the UK if you travel abroad.

However, a graduate visa does NOT allow you to apply for most benefits or the state pension, or work as a professional sportsperson.


How and where do you apply and find jobs that offer visa sponsorship?

Often companies and employers will advise on the job description/advertisement if they offer visa sponsorship. Although it is always best to check with the firm’s HR or graduate recruitment team first to avoid disappointment further down the line. Call up either department as it will highlight your proactiveness, but it will also give you a definitive answer.

Larger firms are also more likely to offer sponsorship, so aim to focus on these companies. They have higher budgets to spend on sponsorships, and if they are a globally known company, they will fully appreciate the benefits of having diverse international employees.

On graduate-jobs, we note in orange boxes at the beginning of a job posting whether the position offers sponsorship.


When do you need to apply?

It is vital that you apply before your student visa or Tier 4 (general) student visa expires. After your educational provider e.g. your university or college has told the Home Office that you have successfully completed the course you undertook with your student visa. There is no need to wait until you have graduated or have been given a certificate.

It is also important to get your application in before others. Many firms have rolling application deadlines and screen applicants when they come in. Therefore, the earlier you can apply, the more positions will be left unfilled.


What documents will you need to apply?

You will need the following:

  • A valid passport or other travel documents that show your identity and nationality
  • Biometric residence permit (BRP), if you were given one when you applied for your Student or Tier 4 visa
  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number


Costs for your own visa if you do not get a visa sponsorship?

If you are unable to secure a graduate visa sponsorship, you will need to pay £715 for the application fee, and £624 for the healthcare surcharge. This is usually £624 for each year you are in the UK too. A total summary will be added up for you when you apply online.


This may seem like a lot of information, but hopefully, it clarifies and answers some of the questions you may have. The UK is a country that offers countless opportunities for graduates, and those that wish to work in the UK can do that with the assistance of their employer through visa sponsorship.