Living as an expat in United Kingdom

Once you graduate, the main thing that changes is that you will no longer have a study Visa so you’ll need to find a different type of Visa (such as a work visa or residency permit) in order to be able to stay in the country.

To be eligible for such a visa you will need a job offer from a UK employer. Once you’ve secured a job, the next step should be finding your expat apartment. As an expat in the UK you can use the National Health Service (NHS), but many choose to take out private health insurance as well.

Expat communities in the UK

The most represented countries in the expat communities in the UK are Poland, Republic of Ireland, India, Romania, and Italy. Followed by Portugal, Spain, Pakistan, Nigeria, and the USA.

Expats living in the UK can benefit from a supportive and vibrant expat community. UK expat forums and online communities can be a great place to connect with others like you, and to find advice on everything from finding housing to navigating the healthcare system.

Here are some useful resources:

  • Expatica website where you can find a lot of useful information about living and working in the United Kingdom as an expat.
  • InterNations websitewhere you can connect with other expats in your city or country.
  • HSBC guide and resources for expats (HSBC is a major bank in the UK)
  • Expatwebsite with a lot of information for expats around the world.

There is no one best place to live in the UK for expats. True, larger cities like London offer many social or cultural activities and job opportunities. But you may also consider a smaller city with a quieter pace of life.

United Kingdom Immigration rules

How your immigration status changes after graduation

Once you graduate, your immigration status changes and you can no longer stay in the UK on a student Visa. To continue living there, you need to apply for a different kind of Visa or apply for citizenship if you already meet the requirements.

Types of Citizenship

  • Apply for a new Visadepending on your circumstances after graduation:

Graduate VisaThis is the most common route for international students, which allows international students who completed a higher education course in the UK to stay in the in the country for up to 2 years.

Skilled Worker VisaYou can apply for this Visa if you have a work offer from a UK employer approved by the Home Office who can give you a “certificate of sponsorship” detailing your role which must fit in this list of occupations. The Visa is valid for up to 5 years and can be extended any number of times.

Global Talent VisaThis is for you if you can prove to be a leader in one of these fields: Arts and Culture, Academia and Research, Digital Technology. This Visa is valid for 5 years with the possibility to extend it if you still meet the conditions.

Start Up VisaThis isn’t the easiest Visa to get, but if you have an innovative idea for a business that doesn’t exist in the UK, you should try it. This Visa is valid for 2 years and cannot be extended.

  • Apply forIndefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Usually, you can get Indefinite Leave to Remain after you lived in the UK for 5 years continuously, but sometimes it can be even 3 or 2 years, depending on the type of Visa you had previously. You should apply for ILR as soon as you meet the required time period if you plan on gaining British citizenship.

  • Apply for British Citizenship

Once you had Indefinite Leave to Remain or Settled Status for a minimum of 12 months, you are eligible to apply for British Citizenship. You will also need to prove you English skills and pass the Life in the UK test where you will have to answer 24 questions about traditional practices and ways of life that have been passed down through generations in the UK.

To stay up-to-date on the latest UK immigration news for student visa, check the updates from UK immigration authorities. It’s also important to budget your immigrant visa application processing fee, which can be different based on your country of origin.

Immigration processing times

The processing time for immigration applications in the UK can vary depending on several factors such as the type of visa or permit being applied for, the volume of applications being received by the UK Home Office, and the complexity of the application itself.

Generally, the UK Home Office aims to process most visa applications within 3 weeks or less, but some applications may take longer. For example, applications that require additional documentation or information may take longer to process.

Continue your studies in United Kingdom

If you are an international student who will graduate from a UK university and would like to continue your studies in the UK, there are several options available to you:

  1. Pursue a Master’s degree: You can apply for a Master’s degree if you already have a Bachelor’s degree. Apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, or through individual university websites. Head over here to see over 1900 Master’s in the UK.
  2. Apply for a PhD: If you are interested in pursuing a research-based degree, and  you already have a Master’s degree, you can apply for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme in the UK. Here’s a list of over 2000 PhDs in the UK.
  3. Apply for a postgraduate diploma or certificate: These shorter courses are designed to provide additional training or education in a specific field and can be completed in a shorter amount of time than a full degree program.
  4. Apply for a professional qualification: Professions such as law, medicine, or teaching require additional qualifications beyond a degree. You can apply for these professional qualifications through professional organisations or regulatory institutions.


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