Working in the UK after your studies
Make time before you graduate to think about whether you want to look for a graduate job in the UK, or whether you would like to find work in your home country. If you want to stay in the UK research your options carefully, and make use of our support and resources on our website to help you with all stages of the recruitment process.
What are my visa options after graduation?
There are several different visas - find out which is best for you. See the information below for a brief outline of your visa options, and this presentation: Visa options for working in the UK after study
Before my Student visa expires
After you have completed your degree, you are likely to have four months left on your visa before it expires. You can use this time to work and to look for a longer term job.
- Look for part-time or short-term vacancies on Handshake
- Use the information on our Work while you study page to help with your job search
- Search Handshake for vacancies which match your language or skills. Identify relevant companies and contact them speculatively, for example to do market research, marketing, social media, web design, translation
- Get in touch with employers or organisations you've had contact with during your time at York to see if they have any opportunities; be proactive - suggest a project you could do to help their business.
Make sure you let prospective employers know you don't need a new visa to work during this period. You can include this information on your application/cover letter. Remember that during this time the student employment restrictions for Student visa holders still apply to the type of work you can do, so you cannot accept a permanent job at this time.
The Graduate visa gives you the opportunity to stay and work in the UK for 2 years (or 3 years after a PhD) without requiring sponsorship from an employer.
- This may offer you more flexibility, especially if you are looking for work in a sector unlikely to be offering Skilled Worker Visa sponsorship (eg the heritage sector, charity sector).
- It can also give you the chance to get experience of working in the UK before applying for a graduate role with Skilled Worker sponsorship.
- Note that the Graduate visa may not meet eligibility requirements for all employers (this is particularly true for some training programmes in the public sector). Make sure you check eligibility requirements when applying for a job.
The University's Immigration Advice Service has more information about your visa options for working in the UK after your studies.
Skilled worker visa - graduate level job
The Skilled Worker visa is a points-based visa, sponsored by an employer, and is appropriate for many graduate level jobs and graduate schemes.
- The employer must be a registered sponsor or prepared to become one
- There are some rules about type of job and salary
- If you are switching in the UK from a student visa, you will be considered a "new entrant" with more favourable terms for the employer.
- Note that not all companies listed on the register of sponsors are recruiting international students to graduate roles - they may have registered in order to sponsor more experienced staff, or their recruitment needs may have changed. You may find that employers are not yet familiar with the details of the new visa routes. The GOV.UK and UKCISA websites are reliable sources of information.
- Some companies include eligibility and visa information on their website; they may be able to sponsor visas for some of their graduate schemes but not all. See PwC's page for international candidates as an example of this kind of information.
- Student Circus - new resource is a jobs board for international students and graduates who want to find UK employers offering Skilled Worker Visa sponsorship.
Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange visa (T5)
- The Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange visa (T5) enables new graduates to stay in the UK to do a paid internship related to their course of study.
- Before your Student visa expires you will have to find a suitable job, with a suitable employer, then find an overarching sponsor who will issue you a Certificate of Sponsorship which will allow you to make your visa application. Examples are Access Tier 5 and Intern Visa.
- There are other versions of visa in the T5 category which may be applicable depending on your own circumstances; you may need to apply from your home country. You can read more about these on the UKCISA website (see "other options") and on the Immigration Advice Service page.
Finding and applying for jobs
Student Circus is a jobs board for international students and graduates who want to find UK employers offering Skilled Worker Visa sponsorship. Designed by international graduates, the platform has jobs listed from over a thousand employers, ranging from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to huge multinational corporations (MNCs), creative agencies, and boutique firms. Sign up using your York email and create a new password (do not use your University password) to access Student Circus.
Looking for jobs
When do I start?
- You should find out about recruitment deadlines for the kind of job you are interested in. Our graduate jobs page explains the difference between graduate schemes (structured graduate training programmes with larger organisations) and direct entry graduate jobs (later in the year, variable deadlines). See also the TARGETjobs Guide to job hunting for international students.
- Start early if you are hoping to get a place on a graduate scheme. Some big companies close their applications in mid-November for the following year. If you are a Masters student, this means you need to start thinking about your next steps straight away!
- Starting early will mean you'll have time to learn from your experiences of applications, assessment centres and feedback from interviews, and if you are not successful initially you will be able to learn and practise for next time.
Where do I look?
What do I need to find out?
- Research industry news to try and understand where companies are more likely to recruit international students. Keep up with current affairs and Labour market information (LMI) affecting that industry. The government's Shortage occupation list can give you an indication of jobs where you are more likely to be successful.
- Research the companies you are interested in - their website is the best place to start and will give you a lot of information about the company and issues affecting them. Be prepared to spend a lot of time researching the companies that interest you the most.
- Use LinkedIn, alumni networks and York profiles and mentors to find previous international students who have found jobs in the UK; see where they are working and consider contacting them for advice.
- Make sure you understand the timescales for applications, and the terminology used in job ads. The Job hunting toolkit will help you with this.
- If you are looking for a job which will sponsor a Skilled Worker visa, check whether the employer you are interested in is able to sponsor you. (Use Ctrl F to find an employer on the register of sponsors.) If they're not already on this list, might they be prepared to become a sponsor to recruit you - do you have specialist, in-demand skills that make this feasible? Note that not all companies listed on the register of sponsors are currently recruiting international students to graduate roles.
- Using the SOC codes check if the job is at the right skill and salary level. If it's not, it won't be possible to get sponsorship.
Presentation slides and resources
Getting a National Insurance number
- At the start of your job hunting, make an application for a National Insurance Number which your employer will expect you to have in place either when you start work or shortly afterwards, see your rights at work for instructions on how to do this.
- Your NI number is a unique personal reference number for your tax/employment affairs - everyone working in the UK needs to have one, issued free of charge.
- It can take several weeks to get your National Insurance Numbers but you should be able to start work while you are waiting for it to arrive.
Work permit / permission to work questions in applications
Some job vacancies state that I must have a work permit or permission to work in the UK – can I still apply?
This type of wording can be quite off-putting and confusing. You should check with the employer exactly what they mean.
- Employers are legally required to check that their employees have the right to work in the UK; they may use this wording to try to protect themselves against recruiting someone who does not have the correct permission to work in the UK. Some jobs have nationality requirements (eg national security, civil service).
- Often employers use this type of wording because they do not understand that you cannot change your visa status from a student visa until after successful completion of your course; you need a job offer and employer sponsorship to apply for a Skilled Worker visa; you can apply for a Graduate visa without employer sponsorship. See above sections for more information.
- This type of wording should not be used by employers to stop international students from applying for positions for which they meet the specified job criteria.
- If you are completing an online application form and are unable to proceed, contact the company for advice.
- If you are planning to apply for a Graduate visa, you could mention to the employer that you should be able to obtain the right to work without any cost or bureaucracy for the employer.
- The information for employers in Recruiting International Graduates 2021 (PDF , 312kb) can be useful to help you understand some key issues.
- We provide information for employers on our website on Recruiting international talent. You can provide this link to employers to help them understand the rules too.
Careers and Placements staff are not immigration advisers and are not permitted to give individual immigration advice, but we might be able to answer your initial queries about this issue. If you have any questions please talk to us.
UCAS points questions in applications
Employers want me to include how many UCAS points I have on my application – what are they and what should I do?
- UCAS points are awarded to some post-16 UK qualifications, which are used for entry to UK Higher Education. Universities can require a specified number of UCAS points for a place on a course.
- Although UCAS does not endorse their use for job applications, many UK employers ask for a specified number of UCAS points as a way of filtering graduate job applications. This is more likely for graduate schemes than direct entry jobs.
- If you are unable to complete an online application when it asks for UCAS points the best thing to do is contact the company's graduate recruitment team and ask for their advice.
- You may be able to provide an estimate of how your qualifications relate to UCAS points (but check with the company first that they are happy for you to do this). You could check how many UCAS points were required for entry onto your course and add wording like: "The entry requirement for my course of study is (X) UCAS points suggesting my qualifications from (home country) are equivalent".
- If it is possible in the notes part of the application, list your qualifications as obtained with the percentage mark achieved. Add comments to indicate level of qualification, for example "equivalent to UK A level Grade A" or "equivalent to UK honours degree". The University of York's study pages for international students (country-specific information) may also help with this.
What can I do to give myself the best chance of success?
There are things you can do now before you start applying for jobs
What can I do to give myself the best chance of success?
Skills and experience
UK employers are interested in your skills and experience as well as your academic qualifications. You have already taken the big step of coming to another country to study, so make the most of your time here, step out of your comfort zone and get involved in activities and experiences that will help you develop your skills further.
- Work experience at home or in the UK is very valuable. You could consider part-time work, a summer internship, or possibly a placement year (check your visa situation with the Immigration Advice Service if you would like to switch into a placement year programme).
- Virtual/online work experience
- York Internships advertise some virtual (paid) internships, but most of their projects are in a workplace
- Forage offers virtual work experience programmes (unpaid) in a range of areas, including law, accounting, finance, tech consulting, marketing and engineering. Programmes consist of resources and tasks designed to simulate real-world experience, and help you build your commercial awareness; they are free to use, and are designed and endorsed by leading companies.
- Get involved in sports and university societies, or activities in your college, and look at our volunteering pages to find a project that interests you. All of these will help you get to know people and experience a different culture, and will give you lots of opportunities to speak English. UK employers are interested in extra-curricular experience as well as your degree.
- Online volunteering - for example, United Nations UNV online volunteering, Zooniverse online volunteering tasks contributing to research across a range of subject disciplines.
- A high standard of English is essential if you want to get a job in the UK. The British Council has some online courses to help:
- At the University of York
- Find an online course to help you develop your employability skills, for example with Google Digital Garage, FutureLearn (free short online courses on a range of topics delivered by universities around the world, including the University of York) or the Open University.
- Make the most of all the University of York has to offer you, including the York Strengths Programme, and York Award, to help you understand yourself better, identify your personal strengths, reflect on your experiences, and stand out in future job applications.
- Make sure you understand what UK employers are looking for - keep up with business news, read job descriptions and company websites carefully to check your meet their requirements. Do not waste time on lots of applications where you are not clear that the job is suitable for you; instead spend your time on a few good quality, targeted applications.
- Use the time you have now to research and plan for your career, using the University of York careers website, Prospects and TARGETjobs. If you’d like to talk to a careers consultant about your questions or plans, book an appointment.
- GoinGlobal country guide for the UK has job search resources, industry trends, and tips for applying for work in the UK (UoY log-in needed for access).
- Make a LinkedIn profile, and start building your network; read Prospects guide to social media and job hunting
- Tell the employer about your international experience in a relevant way; you could mention cross-cultural communication, flexibility in adapting to a different culture, confidence to work in global business, knowledge and understanding of your home culture - and don't forget your language skills.
- Apply only to companies you really want to work for - not just because they are a visa sponsor. The recruitment process will test whether you are genuinely motivated to work for them.
- Understand how the application process works, the timescales and different stages in recruitment.
- Use our resources to make sure you have an up-to-date, clear CV that will get attention. Make sure your CV is right for the UK job market Preparing a CV for the UK job market (PDF , 171kb)
- Practise, practise, practise. We have resources to help you with online tests - practise these in advance to give yourself the best chance. Look especially at verbal reasoning tests to practise your comprehension and extend your vocabulary. The Maths Skills Centre also offers support with numeracy for employability.
- Use our online practice interview resource too, and practise listening to interview questions and giving your answers in a set period of time. No login needed, just register for each practice interview with your University email address.
Resource for Chinese students: Prepare to get ahead is an online resource developed by the University of Warwick to help you make the most of university experience in the UK and plan for your future.
How realistic is it for me to try to stay in the UK?
Some of this is down to you as an individual - do you have valuable skills, experience and knowledge that make you competitive in the job market? However, realistically only a small number of graduates are able to switch into a Skilled worker visa after their studies. The Graduate visa has made it possible for more students to stay in the UK for post-study work for two years.
In the first half of 2022 Graduate route: permission to stay was granted to 30,453 Graduates (UKCISA)
See the section above on what you can do to give yourself the best chance of success.
I have more questions - what should I do now?
What if I can't find a job in the UK?
The Graduate route visa introduced in 2021 should make it easier to stay and work in the UK when you have finished your degree. However, it may be challenging to find a longer term graduate job with Skilled worker visa sponsorship and you may find you need to consider working in another country or returning home to look for work. Start exploring the possibilities as early as you can, research the job market and plan to make the best use of your UK experience. See the section on Working in your home country for more help, as well as our page on international work and GoinGlobal.
Who to contact
Careers and Placements
- Harewood Way, University of York, York, YO10 5DD
- Students and York graduates can contact us or book an appointment via Handshake
- Tel: +44 (0)1904 332685
- Monday - Friday, 10am - 5pm (during semesters)
- Vacation opening times vary - please check the opening times page