The New 2 Year Visa Extension Rules – the Pros & Cons

What’s happening now?

Some of you may remember that back in 2012 there was something called a Post Study Work visa which allowed graduates to continue to stay and work in the UK for up to 2 years after their studies. Then Theresa May decided this was too long, and cut it back to just 4 months.

Last year, the UK government announced a return to this 2 year visa extension for all international students in the UK.

This means that the legislation will soon be passed, hopefully, all international students who graduate in or after Summer 2021 will be granted this extension. There has been talk of this before, yes, but this time it’s looking really positive.

It’s called the Graduate Route and already we’re seeing an increase in the number of students deciding to study in the UK.

PLEASE NOTE: Students graduating before Summer 2021 won’t be eligible to apply.


Jian Goh and Anika Awasthi discuss the pros and cons of the 2 year visa extension in this short YouTube video:

What does this mean for you?

Without a doubt, it’s an exciting development. Certainly, it will be life changing for many of you. Since the news was announced, we at Grad Careers Coach have been asked lots of questions. Will I be eligible? Will it be easier to secure a job with visa sponsorship?

So we wanted to discuss the pros and the cons of this new 2 year visa extension rule. Let’s start with…


The Pros:


  • Having two years after you graduate will mean that you can have much less pressure. At the moment, many of you have just four months after you graduate to jump in and focus on securing your job, and it’s very intense.
  • By the time you graduate, many of the graduate jobs have been filled up and it’s just not enough time.
  • So the two years will be a huge advantage in that sense.

Easier for Master’s Students:

  • A huge difference for students who come in the January intake because of the recruitment cycle in the UK. At the moment if you’re a masters student and your visa expires in January, you are limited to the jobs available with that start date.
  • Companies in the UK employ along a set recruitment cycle. Many graduate programmes start in September or October, and if you’re a masters student, you have a gap between when you graduate and your visa expires, and when these jobs have their intake, and so you miss out.
  • The two years means that you have more flexibility.
  • You can apply to graduate jobs and graduate programmes who have an autumn intake and you don’t miss out on that opportunity.



  • If you’re currently a student and you’ve been applying for graduate jobs for the following year and been unsuccessful, you’re getting rejected from the top jobs that you want to work in then the extension means you have a second chance to apply in the next academic year.
  • Many companies only give you one chance to apply, or you have to wait for the next recruitment cycle. If you have a two year extension, you’re essentially given another chance to apply for your dream company.



  • If you are planning to do a short term internship or placement in the UK, then this visa is perfect for you.
  • Previously, once you had finished your studies, if you wanted to gain work experience you could only work for 4 months.
  • Or some of you may have the option to do a one year placement with your university, but if you don’t secure the placement, then your visa will be reduced.
  • With this new visa it means that you will have enough time to look for a good internship or placement, for up to two years.
  • You will gain some great work experience before you return to your home country. This will boost your CV, and your career prospects wherever you work.


The Cons:


  • This 2 year extension is essentially a short term visa. It is not a long term visa for you. You cannot extend it beyond the two years. If you’re planning to stay in the UK to build a career, then you will need to find another visa category to go onto.
  • The main way to stay and work in the UK in the long term is to secure a job which comes with the Tier 2 general visa sponsorship, so will need to switch from a visa extension to a Tier two work visa.
  • This is a really important point for those of you who are considering staying and building your career in the UK for the long term.



  • Having a generous 2 years in the UK can make it very easy for you to work at companies that might not have a licence to sponsor you in the long term.
  • At the end of the two years, you will need to switch. If they don’t sponsor visas, you will have to start from zero all over again. Some employers might even tell you that they might apply for the licence in the future, but this is not a guarantee, and means you will not have job security.
  • You might have invested a lot of time into that company for two years, and then at the end of it they might just say “I haven’t been successful in getting a licence, I can’t sponsor you”. Then you will come to the end of your two years, which is a huge setback for your career if you are looking to build a good long-term career – it could do more harm.



  • The two year visa extension is potentially a great opportunity, but it’s all about how you spend this time.
  • If you spend those two years doing a casual job, working as a cashier at a bank, for example, or at a local store, or anything part time, will this help you in the future?
  • Yes, you’ll gain some work experience, you’ll get paid – but if you find yourself in a situation where you’re doing casual work for one year, one and a half or two years, it can harm your career prospects going forward.
  • If you are serious about securing a top graduate job in the UK, a graduate job which leads to an exciting career, that comes with training, qualifications and really good prospects, then this can potentially harm that, if you don’t spend those two years wisely.
  • One of the first things you may be asked in an interview when they look at your CV is “you graduated two years ago, what have been doing in those two years?” If you can’t give a good, convincing answer then it’s going to look negative.
  • Always ask yourself – what will the employer think? Are you spending these two years wisely or not? How are you going to maximise this period?



The two year graduate visa extension is great, but it really depends on how you use it.

You don’t want to be taken advantage of by employers who eventually won’t sponsor you. It’s YOUR TIME wasted.

  • Our number one goal is securing you graduate jobs with the tier 2 sponsorship that you need.
  • Despite the visa extension, that is the main route to staying in the UK successfully in the long term.

To find out your individual chances of job success in the UK, then take our FREE assessment now:

Free Assessment > What are your chances of securing a Tier 2 graduate job?


Do you have urgent visa questions?

Get all your questions answered inside our careers platform, The Launchpad.

2 responses to “The New 2 Year Work Visa Extension Rules – the Pros & Cons”

  1. ExoRank says:

    Awesome post! Keep up the great work! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *