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Working in the UK after your studies

Students receiving careers advice

Further information

Provided you have studied a course of at least 12 months in length, your Tier 4/Student visa should expire four months after your course completion date, or six months for taught postgraduates.

During this four or six month period, you can work full time provided you have finished your course, including handing in all outstanding course work and dissertations. You are subject to the usual student employment restrictions, so you cannot be:

  • self-employed
  • a professional sports person or entertainer
  • a doctor in training (unless on a recognised foundation programme)
  • and you cannot take a permanent vacancy.

At the end of the four or six months, you must either leave the UK, or have applied for another visa. If you apply for a Skilled Worker visa (formerly Tier 2), you may continue to work full time while the Home Office processes the application.

Main visa options for working in the UK after your degree

Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme - allows you to work in the UK for 12 months following your PhD to look for and start work

This is for current PhD students who require a visa for 12 months work experience on completion of their course. To apply:  

  • You must have a current Tier 4 visa. If you have left the country and returned to the UK on a student visitor visa or a general visitor, you are not eligible to apply.
  • You must apply after your viva and before you submit your final bound thesis. You cannot apply once your course has been completed, i.e. after you've handed in your final thesis. 
  • You will require an updated course completion date. Once you have taken your viva, and know if you need major or minor corrections, you should email the Tier 4 team at with this information so that a new course completion date can be calculated. The Tier 4 team will provide you with a new CAS, which is required for the application. 
  • You should apply using the online Tier 4 application form.
  • You must apply in the UK. Applications outside the UK will not be accepted.
  • You must show evidence of £2,046 for maintenance. This must be held in a bank account in your name (or in the name of a parent or guardian) for at least 28 days. The bank statement must be no more than one calendar month old on the date you post your application.
  • You will continue to be sponsored by the University, and must meet certain ‘contact points’. 
  • You must provide all documents as required for a Tier 4 application.

There are very few work restrictions on the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme visa. The only employment you are not permitted to take is as a professional sportsperson or coach, or as a doctor or dentist in training. Once you have applied for the Doctorate Scheme, and completed your course, you may start work on these conditions before your visa has been processed.  

The visa is for 12 months maximum, and will start on the course completion date given on the CAS. The starting date of the visa cannot be changed, even if your studies take longer than expected.  

You cannot study full time on this visa; only ‘supplementary study’ is permitted.  

Dependants can also apply, either from inside the UK or outside the UK.   

You can switch in the UK from the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension visa to Tier 2 (General), Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), or any other category of Tier 1 visa. 

There is information on the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance

Skilled Worker - suitable if you want to stay and work in a graduate level job long term. You must have a suitable job offer from a licensed Skilled Worker sponsor

Most students use the Skilled Worker visa if they wish to work in the UK. Students applying from within the UK with a Tier 4 / Student Visa are classed as ‘new entrants’. 

Students applying outside the UK whose last UK visa was a Tier 4 / Student Visa and are within 2 years of the visa expiry date, are also classed as ‘new entrants’. 

For Tier 4 (General)/Student visa holders wishing to switch into the Skilled Worker route the requirements are:

  • The employer must be licensed by the Home Office and issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
  • The  job must qualify  as a Skilled Worker role; the employer should know if this is the case.
  • The minimum salary requirement will vary with each job, but new entrants must meet the ‘70% of going rate’ requirement, or £20,480; whichever amount is higher.  This is a slight decrease on rates before 1 December 2020. 
  • No financial evidence is required if you apply in the UK and have been studying here for at least 12 months. If this is not the case, you must have £1270 for at least 28 days in a bank account.  
  • If you have been financiallly sponsored, then the sponsor must provide a letter consenting to your visa application.
  • You must have a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD degree, or have completed the first year of a PhD. Postgraduate diplomas (unless a PGCE or PGDE teaching qualification) will not be accepted.

There is no longer a requirement for an employer to check the RMLT (Residential Labour Market Test) to justify employing someone from outside the UK and EU. However, the UKVI reserves the right to contact applicants to check that they do have genuine qualifications for the job.

The UKVI has expanded the number of jobs eligible for Skilled Worker visas, to include lower level RQF 3 jobs (it used to include RQF 6 as the lowest level job).  

There is no longer a restriction on the number of workers per employer. 

Once you have submitted a Skilled Worker application, you can take a permanent full time job while waiting for the visa to be processed, unless your T4 visa was issued before 1st October 2019.

Depending on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your employer, you may apply for a visa for a period of 3 or 5 years.  If you apply for a 3 year visa, you will have the option later to apply for a further 3 years, provided you stay in employment.  After 5 years, you can apply to settle in the UK provided you are earning at least £35,000 per year or if the job is on the Shortage Occupation list, is a PhD level job.

Please note that the University’s Immigration Advice Service is not able to advise on work visas, so questions should be directed to the HR (Human Resources) department of your potential employer.

Reading Recruiting International Graduates 2020 (PDF , 333kb) may be useful. It's aimed at employers, but it highlights some of the concessions made for new graduates switching into this category and looks at misconceptions employers have. Make sure your prospective employer understands the rules, as applicable to you as a current Tier 4 visa holder switching in the UK. 

Start-up visa

The Start-up visa scheme is aimed at people who wish to establish a business in the UK, and who have a business plan endorsed by a Home Office-approved endorsing body. It has replaced Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur. You can find out more information on the website, and the UKCISA website.

You can switch in the UK from a Tier 4 / Student Visa if your Visa Sponsor is a publicly-funded higher education institution (the University of York meets this criteria).

To apply to be endorsed (sponsored) by the University of York you must have a business plan, and be a current student or have graduated within the last two years.   

You do not have to be endorsed by the University of York. There is a list of endorsing bodies on the Gov.UK website:    

You can apply inside or outside the UK. 


There are no financial requirements provided you have been in the UK for at least 12 months when applying. 


You may work at the same time as setting up your business (but you cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson or sports coach)

To apply:

Fill in the questionnaire on the guidance webpage at:

Applications will be considered three times a year in September, December and March

Go to Careers for an interview to discuss the eligibility of the business idea

Produce a business case, a two year cash flow forecast and a ‘personal survival income budget’

Provide a reference from your academic supervisor

More information is on the Gov.UK website:

The Start-up Visa is valid for two years. 




Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange (T5) - allows you to remain in the UK (usually for 12 or 24 months) for work experience related to your academic course

This visa route is aimed at graduates who require work experience, internships or professional training for their field of work, or for post-doctoral research projects but is limited to organisations offering these schemes and/or research projects.  Find out more about Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange (T5) visa.

You can switch to Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange in the UK if:

You have current Tier 4 / Student Visa leave
You have completed a UK degree with this Tier 4 / Student Visa  leave
You will be sponsored under Government Authorised Exchange for professional training, research or an internship directly related to your degree
Your employer does not intend to offer you full time permanent employment

The visa is for a maximum of 12 months or 24 months depending on the scheme you’re applying for.

Requirements are:

Funds of £1270 in a bank account for at least 28 days, unless you have been in the UK for at least 2 months

If switching from Tier 4 / Student Visa, successful completion of a Bachelor’s or Masters degree

A certificate of sponsorship from the employer/sponsoring body/institution

You can apply for this visa while studying provided you have already successfully completed a degree.

If the scheme you are applying for is post-doctoral research, the university employing you should hold a Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange (T5) licence and therefore sponsor you to apply for the visa. 

If you are planning to do an internship or other work experience scheme, your employer would normally be expected to sponsor you. If the employer is willing to offer you an internship, but does not hold the relevant Tier 5 licence, there are companies who will sponsor you on behalf of your employer for a fee. These companies will also assist you in obtaining your visa. These include organisations like Access UK; further details are available in the information about Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange (T5) visas.


Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) - allows nationals of some countries to work in the UK for up to two years

The Youth Mobility Scheme visa is completely separate from the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange visa. The Youth Mobility visa allows nationals of the countries listed below to work in the UK for up to two years:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Korea
  • San Marino
  • Taiwan
  • British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Territories and British Nationals (Overseas) can also apply.

Places are limited annually and once the quota for the year has been reached you have to wait and try again later. There are four key eligibility criteria:

  • you are not allowed to apply from within the UK, so must go home to make the application; 
  • you must be aged between 18 and 30;
  • you cannot have a dependent child under the age of 18; and
  • £2530 is required in your bank account for at least 28 day.You can work and study on this scheme (subject to the restrictions specified on the Gov.UK website: