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Working in the UK after your studies

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, subject to a Positive verification notice on an Employer Check. Your employer will carry out this check on your behalf.

Main visa options for working in the UK after your degree

Graduate visa

What is the Graduate Visa?

The Graduate visa is a new immigration route which allows international students to stay in the UK for two years (three years for PhD), for work experience, after successfully completing a degree programme.

The visa will cost £715 and applicants will have to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year of the visa.

You can do any type of work, including self-employment but you cannot be a professional sportsperson or coach.

The visa is not extendable and does not count towards settlement but it will be possible to switch into the Skilled Worker route, if a suitable job is identified.

Am I eligible to apply?

You should not apply for the Graduate Visa until you have received an email from the Visa Compliance Team advising you that you can now apply

You are eligible to apply if you meet the requirements below:

  • You are an international student who has successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance*, and; 
  • You have a valid Student/Tier 4 visa and are in the UK at the time you make your application, and; 
  • You have not had a Graduate or Doctoral Extension Scheme (DES) visa before (this means you can only get the Graduate visa once), and; 
  • If you began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 and have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and are already in the UK, you will be able to make a Graduate application before the end date of your visa; or 
  • If you began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 and have spent the whole course studying online at home, you are eligible to apply for the Grad Visa as long as you apply for a Student Visa first and have arrived in the UK by 27 September 2021 or by your Student Visa expiry date, whichever is sooner; or 
  • If your course is longer than 12 months, you must be resident and studying in York by 30 June 2022 or by your visa expiry date, whichever is sooner.
  • If, in the 12 months before you apply, you were sponsored by a Government or Scholarship body, which covered both fees and living costs, or that financial sponsorship ended in the last 12 months, you must provide written evidence from the provider, confirming that they are happy for you to remain in the UK.

Dependents

  • If you are accompanied by family members, who hold dependent visas, they can apply to extend their visa to remain with you. However, new dependents are not allowed, with the exception of babies born in the UK, who have yet to apply for a dependent visa.

*The University of York is a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.

For more details, please see UKCISA's guidance on the Graduate Visa.

How do I apply?

The Visa Compliance Team will email you to notify you when you can make your graduate visa application

You should not apply until you receive this email.

Further information and the application can be found on the Government website

If you experience any problems completing the application or have any questions, please contact the International Student Support team for immigration advice

Can I study in the UK on a Graduate visa?

You can only study with a Graduate visa if your chosen course is not eligible for a Student visa. For example you could not study an in-person Undergraduate, Masters or PhD course on a Graduate visa. If you wanted to study one of these courses you would need to switch back to a Student visa and you would not be able to start the course until you have been granted your Student visa

You can only get the Graduate once, so you would not be able to receive another one after completing a new course. 

Applying for a Graduate Visa as a PhD student

You should not apply for the Graduate Visa until you have received an email from the Visa Compliance Team advising you that you can now apply. This is because to be eligible the University must have confirmed your successful completion to UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI).

If your Tier 4/Student visa is due to expire within 4 months from when you submit your thesis for examination (i.e the submission before your viva), or any time when you do not have enough time left on your visa for your viva and a corrections period, the University will probably not be in a position to confirm your successful completion before your visa expires. It is likely that you will require some corrections after your viva and the University can only confirm your successful completion after you have submitted your final thesis with corrections. Instead the University can consider a further CAS request from you to renew your Tier4/Student Visa to complete your corrections in the UK and then later apply for the Graduate Visa if you are successful with your PhD.

Please note that a new CAS will only be issued if you need to be in the UK to complete your PhD, it cannot be issued for the sole purpose of waiting to apply for a Graduate visa. 

You can find guidance on renewing your Student Visa on our web-pages.

If you already have a job offer which qualifies for sponsorship you may want to consider if a Skilled Worker visa is a better option. There is further guidance on Skilled Worker visas below.

Graduate visa - seeking an extension on a final assignment?

If you are not a PhD student (eg Bachelors or Masters student) and are seeking an extension on your final assignment, you should consider how the extension could affect your eligibility to the Graduate visa. 

To be eligible the University must have confirmed your successful completion to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

If you have received an extension on your final assignment it is likely that you will have to wait longer than others for your award to be confirmed and for successful completion to be confirmed with UKVI.

If your award cannot be confirmed before your visa expiry date it will not be possible for you to apply for the Graduate visa as your Tier 4/Student visa must still be valid when you apply. It will not be possible to extend your Tier 4/Student visa to wait for your award to be confirmed.

Your academic department will be best placed to advise you on when they expect your award to be confirmed but if you have any questions specifically about a visa, either your current visa or a new Graduate visa application, you should contact the International Student Support team for immigration advice.

Alternative visa options

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 stay and work in the UK after they have finished their studies. 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 financially sponsored, then the sponsor must provide a letter consenting to your visa application.
  • You must have a Bachelors, Masters 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.

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 of continuous residence, you can apply to settle in the UK provided your salary meets the requirements outlined in Appendix Skilled Worker (SW 24.3) (you’ll usually need to be paid at least £25,600 per year unless the ‘going rate’ for your job is higher than this) and your employer wants you to remain. Please find more details on the requirements of switching from Skilled Worker to settled status in the government guidance.

Please note that the University’s Immigration Advice Service is not able to advise extensively on work visas, so questions should be directed to the HR (Human Resources) department of your potential employer. If you are applying for a job at the University of York, then please direct your visa related work queries to hr-compliance@york.ac.uk.

Reading Recruiting International Graduates 2021 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 Gov.uk 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).

The Start-up Visa is valid for two years. 

To apply:

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

  • Book an appointment via the Careers guidance webpage.
  • 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.

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 postdoctoral 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 postdoctoral 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).