UK life Working after study
Working after study
Upon graduation in the UK, there are a number of visa categories available to you if you want to stay on to work.
Most nationals of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland can work unrestricted in the UK. See the article about studying and working in the UK for European students for more information.
Non-EEA international students
If you are from outside the EEA, at the end of your course you may be able to stay and work in the UK through one of the following routes:
Tier 2 (General)
The main visa option for international students from outside of the EEA who want to work in the UK after study is now applying to enter or remain in the UK as a skilled worker under Tier 2 (General) of the UK’s points-based system.
Check out TARGETjobs to get tips and careers advice on how to get hired by some of the leading graduate employers in the UK.
The Tier 2 (General) category is for non-EEA nationals who have been offered a skilled job to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker.under the new points-based system.
You can apply for an employer sponsored work visa under Tier 2 if you have a job offer from an employer that is on the UK Border Agency’s (UKBA’s) Register of Sponsors and has been issued with a valid certificate of sponsorship.
You have to apply for the visa with the certificate of sponsorship and you need to pass the points-based assessment, which requires the post to have a minimum annual salary of £20,000. (See the codes of practice for sponsored workers on the UKBA website for more information.)
For the year from 6 April 2012 to 5 April 2013, a maximum of 20,700 skilled workers can come to the UK under Tier 2 (General) to do jobs with an annual salary below £150,000. (There is no limit on the number of workers coming to the UK to do jobs with an annual salary of £150,000 or above.)
You do not need to apply under the points-based system if:
- you are a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
- you are a British overseas territories citizen (unless you are from one of the sovereign base areas in Cyprus)
- you are a Commonwealth citizen with permission to enter or stay in the UK because at least one of your grandparents was born here (the UK ancestry section of the UKBA website explains how you can apply)
- your partner or, if you are under 18, one of your parents has permission to stay in the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based system – you should apply as their dependant
- you have no conditions or time limit attached to your stay.
Find out more about the Tier 2 (General) of the UK’s points-based system from the UKBA website.
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category allows you entry to the UK if you are internationally recognised as a world leader in the arts and sciences or possess potential world-leading talent in the arts or sciences to live and work in the UK. The visa will be overseen by world-renowned ’competent bodies’, which will advise the UKBA on these ’exceptionally talented’ migrants to ensure that they are the brightest and best in their field. There is a limit of 1,000 places in the first year of operation (6 April 2012 to 5 April 2013).
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is for non-European migrants who want to invest in the UK by setting up or taking over, and being actively involved in the running of, a business or businesses in the UK.
Special Visitor: Prospective Entrepreneurs
A new Special Visitor: Prospective Entrepreneurs category has been created to enable individuals to come to secure funding in order to set up or run a business in the UK with a view to meeting the financial criteria under Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route within six months. If they meet the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) requirements they may apply to switch into this category within six months, otherwise they will have to leave the UK.
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa route is for non-European students who want to set up a business in the UK.
To be eligible, you need to be indentified as having developed world-class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills by the UK higher education institution where you studied for your degree or PhD. The institution must be authorised to support Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) applications, and you must have been awarded a degree or PhD in the last 12 months by the institution supporting your application.
The UK Government has limited the number of applications that can be made under Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category, and there is a limit of 1,000 places for the year from 6 April 2012 to 5 April 2013.
From 6 April 2013, this route is being expanded to include an additional 1,000 places for talented MBA graduates from UK higher education institutions. This means the new allocations for the year from 6 April 2013 to 5 April 2014 will be:
- 900 places to qualifying higher education institutions for the purpose of endorsing graduates in any subject
- 1,000 places to qualifying higher education institutions for the purpose of endorsing MBA graduates
- 100 places to UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) for its elite global graduate entrepreneur scheme.
Tier 4 (General)
From April 2013, all PhD and other doctorate students completing their studies at publicly-funded institutions or recognised bodies will be entitled to stay in the UK for one year beyond the end of their course to find skilled work or to set up as an entrepreneur.
This scheme applies to students who are yet to finish their doctorate, and you have to apply within 60 days of the date by which you should have received confirmation that the doctorate has been awarded. As you won’t be able to apply to stay in the UK after this date has passed (and you can’t apply under this scheme from outside the UK), you must have immigration permission that allows you to apply in the UK under a Tier 4 (General) visa.
Tier 5 (Temporary worker – government authorised exchange)
The government authorised exchange category is for people coming to the UK through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice, and to experience the social and cultural life of the UK. This category must not be used to fill job vacancies or to bring unskilled labour to the UK.
Visas no longer available
Under the points-based immigration system, you used to be able to remain in the UK as a post-study worker (Tier 1 Post-study Work). However, since April 2012, the Tier 1 Post-study Work Route has been closed, which means that international students graduating after this date will have to return to their country of origin after unless they hold take one of the routes outlined above.
The UK Border Agency website has more information and application forms. See also the UKCISA Information Sheet Working in the UK after your studies.