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 visa should expire four months after your course completion date or six months for taught postgraduates only, studying from the 2018/19 academic year.

During this four 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 months you must either leave the UK, or have applied for another visa. If you apply for a work visa (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 tier4@york.ac.uk 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 £2,030 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

Tier 2 (General) - 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 Tier 2 sponsor

Most students use the Tier 2 (General) visa if they wish to work in the UK. The requirements for Tier 2 are more flexible for those applying in the UK with a valid Tier 4 visa, provided they have studied on this visa. The requirements are also more flexible for those applying for a PhD level job, or earning over £155,300 per annum.

For Tier 4 (General) visa holders wishing to switch into Tier 2 (General) the requirements are:

  • The employer must be licensed by the Home Office.
  • You must be offered a job which pays at least £20,800, in some very specific job roles but for the majority it is likely to be £25,000 or higher, per year.
  • You must show evidence of at least £945 in a your bank account for a minimum of 90 days.
  • 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.

If you apply in the UK and you still have leave remaining on your student visa, your employer will not have to pass the Resident Labour Market Test. This means that your employer will not have to search the UK and EU job market and prove that you were the most suitable applicant, before they can offer you the job. Furthermore, your application will not affect the restricted numbers of non-EU applicants that your employer can offer a job to. This will make it much easier for an employer to offer you a position in their company.

Once you have submitted a Tier 2 application, you can take a permanent full time job while waiting for the visa to be processed.

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, or if you have Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) leave.

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 2018 (PDF , 179kb) 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 they apply to you as a current Tier 4 visa holder switching in the UK. 

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) - opportunity to get sponsorship to set up your own business

This visa is aimed at students who have completed their degree and wish to set up a business in the UK.

To be eligible, the University must agree to sponsor (endorse) you, and monitor your progress. If you are interested in applying for this visa, you should first read the information on our Enterprise page and complete the form to register your interest in the scheme. You are permitted to approach other universities if you prefer to be endorsed by a different institution.

You must apply within 3 months of the date of the endorsement letter but please be aware that institutions can only endorse a maximum of  20 Graduate Entrepreneurs per year.

You must show evidence of at least £945 in your bank account for a minimum of 90 days (the amount is £1890 if applying from outside the UK).

Please note that you cannot apply if you have previously held Tier 1 (Post-study Work) leave.

If you are successful, you will be granted 1 year to develop business plans, and will be allowed to work as many hours as you wish but subject to the same employment role restrictions as Tier 4 (e.g. not self employed, professional sportsperson or entertainer etc..). Leave can be extended for a further 12 months maximum if it appears likely that you will then qualify for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

Applications can be made from outside the UK, as well as within the UK. If applying in the UK you can only apply by post – in person applications are not permitted.  Please note that the University of York is only able to sponsor its own graduates under this scheme.

You will not be able to switch to another visa in the UK apart from Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 2.

Further details are available on the Gov.UK website.

Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) - allows you to remain up in the UK (usually for up to 12 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. Detailed guidance on applying for Tier 5 (GAE) is available on the Careers and Placements' Tier 5 Toolkit 2018/19 (PDF , 2,618kb).

If the scheme you are applying for is post-doctoral research, the university employing you should hold a Tier 5 (GAE) licence and therefore sponsor you to apply for the Tier 5 (GAE) 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 Tier 5 Toolkit 2018/19 (PDF , 2,618kb).   

Eligibility requirements are:

  • Funds of £945 for at least 90 days;
  • A UK recognised degree if switching from Tier 4, or at least 12 months completion of a PhD course; and
  • The employer does not intend to offer you work once the scheme has been completed.
You can switch to this visa in the UK from your Tier 4 (General) visa for a maximum of 12 or 24 months depending on the length of the scheme or research project.
 
Once the scheme is completed, you can switch in the UK to Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) only.  More details are available on the Gov.uk website.  

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) - allows nationals of some countries to work in the UK for up to two years

A Tier 5 Youth Mobility 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
  • 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. Two key points:

  • you are not allowed to apply from within the UK
  • you must be aged between 18 and 30 to be eligible.

Find out more on the UKCISA website and at gov.uk