Post Study Work Visa......What Next?

Post Study Work Visa....What Next ? There are only very few options left for the PSW Visa holders. Fahmida Khan, Consultant Editor, reports,


The Tier 1 – Post Study Work route was intended to allow recent international or Non EU graduates from most established universities / listed bodies to stay and work in UK for maximum for two years. PSW visa allows them to work without any restrictions but it cannot be extended beyond two years. A post-study worker is expected to switch into any of the below points-based system:
  • Tier 1 General
  • Tier 2 General or
  • Tier 4

Current Situation

As of April 2011 the Tier 1 General category has been closed for all applicants.

Switching into Tier 4 category has many shortcomings as the new rules in place for Tier 4 candidates means that the work is restricted and also this means the candidates would not qualify for reduced maintenance as well.

This leaves the option of Tier 2 General category. After the closure of Tier 1 General which was the most popular option for PSW holders, the UKBA has encouraged switching into the Tier 2 General.
Under the Tier 2 General route, Non EU Nationals can gain entry into UK to fill a vacancy that cannot be filled by a settled worker. The main requirement is to have a Tier 2 licensed sponsor or institution. The sponsor would have to assign a certificate of sponsorship, well known as a CoS.  A CoS is a unique reference number, which holds information about the candidates’ job and their personal details.

As with all PBS routes, Tier 2 also requires candidates to score 50 points based on Sponsorship (CoS), Maintenance and English Language.

Switching from a post-study category

According to the current regulations 30 points can be scored for CoS if switching from:

  • Tier 1 (Post-study work)
  • Have worked for the current sponsor for a continuous period of at least 6 months immediately before the date of application. AND
  • Applying to continue to work in the same job AND
  • if applying from inside the United Kingdom
 10 Points for maintenance can be automatically gained if switching from a post-study category as well.

Actual Situation - the plight of PSW holders in real life...

Annual Limit

The government has announced an annual limit for employers to bring foreign nationals into UK. Tier 2 - General route will be limited to 20,700 people to work in skilled professions. Also a new Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route has been opened up with a further 1,000 visas to attract the brightest and the best prospects into UK.

This annual limit ONLY applies to CoS for new migrants earning under £150,000 per annum coming to start work in the UK from overseas. These are called ‘restricted’ jobs, for which a ‘restricted’ CoS is required.

The following are the ONLY exemptions from the limit and are called ‘unrestricted’ jobs.  All other Tier 2 - General CoS will count towards the annual limit of 20,700 per annum.

An ‘unrestricted’ CoS is required for the following categories:

  • New foreign workers or migrants coming from overseas with an annual salary of 150,000 or more.
  • Extending leave for an existing migrant worker who is already in the UK working and has existing leave under Tier 2 - General or as a Work Permit holder (granted on or before 5 April 2011).
  • Change of Employment in cases where a migrant is already as a Tier 2 - General migrant or as a Work Permit holder and intends to switch jobs and start work for a new licensed sponsor.
  • Switching Immigration category – CoS required for a migrant who is already in the UK under another immigration category e.g. PSW and is eligible to switch into Tier 2 - General.


Tier1 Post Study Work route is planned to be closed in April 2012

The sudden closure of Tier 1 general route has proved to be a great set back for the PSW holders who were the most potential candidates for this route.

With the UKBA imposing new and tougher rules, many employers are forced on their back foot and are thinking twice about employing migrants with Tier 2/5 visas. Hence it has been extremely difficult for PSW holders to find potential Tier 2 license employers.

According the new regulations students who complete their degree/postgraduate qualifications are allowed to switch to Tier 2 General within four months of their course completion. Well this may sound as an immense favour for the students especially with the closure of PSW route in April 2012, the practicality of this issue is a very different picture. There is also a limitation in which sectors could employ Tier 2 holders, e.g. retail industry is not in the approved list. When employers are thinking twice to employ or continue employing the PSW holders, how practical would it be for them to employ fresh graduates?

All this may look very encouraging for the future graduates but the implementation in reality still remains a grey area....

The latest consultation set out by the government to break the link between temporary and permanent migration adds more salt to the wound. Of the many proposals set out the key points include:
·         Consider the Tier 2 category as temporary route hence restricting the automatic right for settlement.
·         Provide automatic settlement for certain categories of Tier 2 migrant, such as those earning over £150,000 or occupations of a specific economic or social value to the UK
·         Create a new route or visa category for the most exceptional Tier 2 migrants, to be able to switch after 3 years in the UK and apply for settlement later on.

The final outcome of this consultation will be announced very soon by the UKBA. It is anticipated that this move will further discourage employers seeking for Tier 2 holders as this would only be a route to fill temporary jobs.

In a nutshell

There are very few options left for the PSW holders. They could choose to changeover to any of the below options.
  •  Tier 2 General – Most promising in terms if satisfying the requirements and scoring points but finding employers to sponsor them by far remains a great challenge.
  • Tier 4 – Most challenging due to No/ restricted work and the requirement to show full maintenance.
  • Return back home – Unfortunately seems to be the only way out for many PSW holders who are currently struggling to make sense out of the rapid developments occurring around them ...

On a final note they need to be smart and sensible and try to weigh out the pros and cons in making an appropriate decision.

Try the very best and leave the rest to the Most Sovereign, whatever you have been destined for will definitely be yours for the taking!!!!

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Anonymous said...

A Well Written Article
Thank You

Anonymous said...

excellent, excellent, excellent

Unknown said...

google knows it :-D

Anonymous said...

Dear Editor,
Will you please shed light on the new Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, Please

Muhammad Umar Akbar said...

Thanks for the information.!!! Great i was searching for this!!..please keep it up

Apply for UK Visa

Anonymous said...

I am in need of info on new Grad enterprenur visa requirements, any info article coming up sooner??, Please!!!

Anonymous said...

thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Im currently a PSW holder and I am still unclear. Do I have to work for a minimum of 6 months to switch from Tier 1(PSW) to Tier 2(General) visa? Or will I attain 30 points automatically since I am switching from Tier 1 (PSW) visa? I already have a sponsor, CoS, required amount of funds and earn 22,000 but Ive only been working for 3 months. Can I switch to Tier 2 (General) visa or do i have to wait 3 more months? I would really appreciate a reply. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 06.38
Wait 3 more months (as long as your current visa is not due to expire before then)since you have a sponsor already. I am in the exact same position except for the fact that my employer is not on the approved sponsor list. I earn 22,000 and my visa expires in Feb 2014. However, i want to start early to plan ahead to determine what route to switch to. Any advice would be welcome.

Education For All said...

Thank you @ Anonymous 26 September 2012 10:00 for your response.

In Addition the employer will have to take the resident labor market test if you have not worked continuously for 6 months.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur is the most likely route to switch if you are on PSW route.

All the best !!!

Anonymous said...

Is there any possibility that psw can change to tier1.if they got gud job

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 26 September 2012 10:00 - Thanks for you input! I dont know if you have heard but there have been some changes to the Tier 2 General visa requirements. Apparently now PSW visa holders dont have to work for 6 months continously before applying for the visa provided the empolyer is on the sponsor list in UKBA. Have any of you guys heard about this? Im currently searching for a new job with a sponsored licencor and my visa expires in Feb 2014 as well so I guess Im in the same boat as you now!:/

Anonymous said...

Is there any provisions to remain in the UK who passed MBA before 13 December 2012 and her visa still 06 April 2014 and regularly studying ACCA.

Anonymous said...

I am also on PSW and working with company from last 2 years. But my salary is still £18.5K,they have offered me COS with the same salary package.
would i be eligible to apply T2 general ?

Anonymous said...

Im Non-EU/PSW working as permanent healthcare assistant 7 mos now earning £14k, and the hospital is in UKBA sponsors list.
Is HCA included to be sponsored? Is the salary not enough? should i apply to those offering £20k?
My visa expires on July 2014. When should i apply for Tier 2 Gen, if possible?
Please help!!

Education For All said...





Anonymous said...

Anonymous2014 said...
Im Non-EU/PSW working as permanent healthcare assistant 7 mos now earning £14k, and the hospital is in UKBA sponsors list.
Is HCA included to be sponsored? Is the salary not enough? should i apply to those offering £20k?
My visa expires on July 2014. When should i apply for Tier 2 Gen, if possible?
Please help!!
16 January 2013 18:15

Education For All said...

Reference to Tier 2 General queries...

Pls. refer ( which has the latest upto date occupations and minimum salary requirements and then verify if your position is on the list and your earnings fulfills the minimum salary requirements

All the best!!

Education For All said...

Request on 18 May 2012 06:01, about Grad Ent... Visa, Please refer our new article by consultant editor titled "Post Study Work Visa......What Next? - Part II / 2013"

The Link is :

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Can you please provide me the link from the UKBA website which explains that employer can retain/sponsor existing employee without being worried about giving any advertisement for the vacancy or unique-ness of the employee.

your kind help will be highly appreciated.

Many Thanks,


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