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30 August 2023

Visa help sheet: Your post-education visa options

Do you finish your higher education in the UK this year? When your course finishes, your Student Visa will expire, but this does not mean you have to leave the UK. There are plenty of post-education visa options available. This blog will take you through them.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
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When does my Student Visa expire so I can look at my post-education visa options?

The UK Student Visa replaced the Tier 4 Visa. It allows international citizens to study further for higher education in the UK at approved schools, colleges and universities.

Your Student Visa will last the whole length of your course. In most cases this is up to 5 years at degree level or 2 years below degree level.

If your course finishes on time, you can stay until your visa expires. If your course finishes early, your visa expiry date may change. This is because your education provider has a duty to inform the government of any changes to your course.

If your course will finish after the expiry date on your visa, you can extend it. But this is not likely as the Student Visa can last for 5 years, and most higher education courses only last 3 or 4 years.

What to do when your Student Visa expires

You must not overstay on your visa. There are plenty of post-education visa options available to extend your time in the UK without committing a criminal offence. Overstaying will make it much more difficult to reapply for visas in the future and it increases the chances of your application being rejected.

You can apply for a number of other visas, but you must do this BEFORE your Student Visa expires.

Your main options are:

  • A Student Visa extension
  • A switch to a different visa
  • Leave the UK

What post-education visa should you apply for?

Read the table below to compare the post-education visas available to you after completing your UK education.

This table is written on the assumption that you are currently living in the UK. If you are currently residing internationally, different application rules may apply.

Visa NameWho can applyApplication conditionsWhen can you apply?How long is it valid for?Can I renew it after it expires?
Student Visa ExtensionThose already on a Student Visa.

When you have been offered an unconditional place to study at an approved centre of education.

If your course is at a higher academic level than your current course. For example, you are studying for a master’s degree.

Your new course must begin within 28 days of your current visa’s expiration date.

The earliest is 3 months before your course starts.

You must apply before your current visa expires.

Until your new course ends.No, you must switch visas when it expires.
Graduate VisaThose already on Student Visas living in the UK. You must have completed higher education qualifications in the UK in order to move onto a Graduate Visa.Before your Student Visa expires but after you have completed your current studies.2 years or 3 years for a PhD.No, you must switch to a different visa.
Skilled Worker VisaMost international citizens.

You must have been offered a job by a licensed sponsor. 

A job on the eligible jobs list.

Your salary must meet the minimum requirement.

You must be able to read, write and speak in English.

You must apply before your current visa expires and once you have proof of a job offer from an approved sponsor.3 years or 5 years depending on the job.

Yes. It can last up to 5 years but you can extend it when it expires. 

You can extend it forever as long as you still meet the requirement.

If you change jobs, you will need to extend/ update your visa.

Health and Care Worker Visa

Most international citizens are qualified to work in the health and social care industry.

You cannot apply if you are on a short-term Student Visa.

Work in an eligible health or social care job that is approved by the UK home office. 

Be paid the appropriate wage based on the job role.

You can apply for this job up to 3 months before your start date.

You must apply for it before your Student Visa expires.

It can last up to 5 years.

It lasts as long as your employee sponsorship.

If you change jobs, you will need to extend/ update your visa.

Please note, after 5 years of living and working in the UK you might be entitled to apply for settlement status/ indefinite leave to remain. This means you can live, work and study here indefinitely.

So what's next?

We offer immigration advice and help with all UK post-education visa applications. If you are looking to switch your Student Visa to remain in the UK when your studies end, we are here to help. So get in touch today.

Contact us

Do you have questions about how to remain in the UK once your Student Visa expires? Contact us now for your FREE 10 minute consultation.

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If you have any questions, or want to book an appointment with one of our legal experts, contact Woodcock Law today. Call us on +44 (0)20 7712 1705 or email

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