Overview of working visas

If you wish to work in the UK after you have completed your studies then you will need to check if you are eligible to apply for a visa under any of the current visa routes operated by the Home Office. This page (along with the more detailed pages accessible via the left hand navigation) aims to give you a basic understanding of the most relevant routes available to students who have completed their studies. You may also like to visit the UKCISA website which also hosts useful information regarding working in the UK after your studies .

Note that if you make an application under any of these schemes on or after 6 April 2015, you will, in most cases, have to pay an immigration health surcharge.

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

This scheme is for graduates who have been identified by the University as having developed world-class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills. This scheme will enable graduates to stay in the UK after graduation, to establish one or more businesses based in the UK with the support of the institution. There is a limit of 1000 places per year, with a maximum of 10 places per participating institution. Leave to remain is initially granted for one year but this can be extended by a further year, giving a maximum of two years under this route.

Tier 2 Skilled Workers

This visa is for foreign nationals who have a job offer for a skilled job which cannot be fulfilled by a settled national. An employer who is on the Home Office register of sponsors can issue a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to a potential employee who would not otherwise be allowed to work in the UK.

Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme

This is a one year scheme for successful students who are completing a course at doctoral level. It is intended to allow students to look for and gain work in the UK. Sponsorship will still lie with the student’s University, which will need to provide a CAS statement for students they wish to continue sponsoring. Students will be required to fulfill University and Home Office monitoring procedures throughout the year if granted. Students who have successfully found employment may be able to subsequently switch into a Tier 1 or Tier 2 category.

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme

The Youth Mobility Scheme is for young people from participating countries to experience life in the UK. Under this category you can work for up to two years. Each year the UK government allocates a maximum number of applications per country and territory. Please visit the UKCISA web page for more information.

The participating countries for 2015 are:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Korea
  • Taiwan

If you are either a passport-holder or a citizen of one of the countries or territories above, and that country or territory has not exceeded their annual allowance, you may be eligible to apply under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme. Your national government will be your sponsor during your stay.

You may also apply under this scheme if you are a British National Overseas (BNO). If you are a British Overseas Citizen or a British Overseas Territories Citizen then you will not need a sponsor for this visa route. There is also no maximum limit for applications if you fall under the BNO rules.