Working in the UK after your studies
We can currently advise about all post-study work visa options, up to the point of job offer, and additionally can support applications for the Start-up visa and Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) visa. Please note that it is likely that the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) will no longer run from 1 January 2021. A new immigration system will come into effect and it is not yet clear what provision may replace the Tier 4 (DES) route between January 2021 and summer 2021. You can read the immigration policy update here.
In September 2019 the UK government announced plans to reintroduce a general post-study work visa. These plans have not been finalised yet, but there is some information available on this Home Office webpage as well as on the UKCISA Working after Studies webpage. It is anticipated that this immigration route will be launched in the summer 2021. We will update our website with more information when it becomes available.
The Start-up visa has now replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa. Start-up is a UKVI initiative under which the University of Bristol is able to endorse a limited number of entrepreneurs for the 2 year visa and is co-run by the Basecamp Enterprise team in the Careers Service and Student Visa Services. This is for those who want to set up a business in the UK and whose business venture meets the requirements of innovation, viability and scalability.
Please see the UKVI website and the University's online resource What is the Start-Up visa? for further information about Start-up. Please be aware that the financial requirement is that you have already held £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you submit an online visa application. Please see Start-up visa (PDF, 165kB) for details on how to apply for the visa and what to prepare.
If you would like to be considered for endorsement you will need to submit a business plan to the Basecamp Enterprise team. The next opportunity to submit a business plan will be in autumn 2020, dates to be confirmed. Please see the University's online resource What is the Start-Up visa? for further details on how to submit your business plan.
Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) visa
Please see Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) visa information (PDF, 134kB) for details.
The Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) gives students who have almost finished their PhD an additional 12 months of Tier 4 immigration permission to remain in the UK to look for work. You must have a current Tier 4 student visa to participate in the scheme, and you can only apply from inside the UK. You must also obtain a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from the University of Bristol. Please note that it is likely that the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) will no longer run from 1 January 2021. A new immigration system will come into effect and it is not yet clear what provision may replace the Tier 4 (DES) route between January 2021 and summer 2021. You can read the immigration policy update here.
If your PhD has already been awarded at the Examinations Board, you will not be eligible to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
Switching into Tier 2 General visa
A student with a valid Tier 4 visa is eligible to switch to Tier 2 (General) in the UK if they have been offered a skilled job.
Criteria for applying in the UK:
- Valid Tier 4 visa
- The employer must hold a Tier 2 sponsor licence and issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) to the applicant. Access the list of Tier 2 (and Tier 5) sponsors here.
- The applicant would be required to provide evidence of completing / studying on a course:
- If you have completed your course, you can submit your final transcript or degree certificate as evidence
- If you only have three months left on your course (PGT and UG) or you have finished 12 months of your PhD, ask your Faculty for a status letter which shows the date of issue, the start of your studies and the anticipated study end date
- The job must be at least RQF level 6 or above
When a student switches in the UK, they are eligible for the ‘new entrant’ salary rate which is minimum £20,800 but a role’s SOC code could mean it could be higher. The student must match their job to one of the SOC codes in Appendix J: codes of practice for skilled work. Some SOC codes require a higher ‘new entrant’ salary, the student's job offer must match it.
- Maintenance requirement - £945 held in applicant's bank account for 90 days before applying for Tier 2 OR Tier 2 sponsor certifies on COS that they will accommodate employee for the first month of employment in the UK (minimum £945). The employers certify this on COS (a tick box which, if ticked, would also apply to the maintenance funds for dependants if they apply at the same time as the main applicant).
- The sudent has to pay IHS fee (currently £400 a year)
- If the student has received funds from a financial sponsor in the last 12 months, they will need to provide a consent letter which says that the financial sponsor (only governments and international scholarship agencies) gives their consent for the student to remain in the UK.
- Costs of applying for Tier 2 visa are published here.
It is easier to switch in the UK than to apply from overseas for the following reasons:
- Employers are exempt from conducting Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) and would be able to issue an 'unrestricted' COS quicker.
- Employers are exempt from paying Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) when switch happens in the UK. ISC charge per year is £364 for small or charitable sponsors or £1000 for medium or large sponsors.
- Those switching in the UK are exempt from demonstrating English Language Requirement.
Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme
A student can apply for a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa if they want to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years.
This scheme is available for Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Monaco, Taiwan, Republic of Korea and Hong Kong. Each has a certain quota with exception for British Overseas Territories Citizens or British Nationals (Overseas) who have no limited quota.
Requirements of Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme are:
- A valid passport
- Aged between 18 and 30
- £1890 held in the bank account on the day of application
- No children under age of 18 where the applicant is living with them or financially responsible for them
- The applicant has not previously spent time in the UK under Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme
- Tuberculosis test results may be required.
Some facts about Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa:
- It is not possible to switch into this visa category in the UK from Tier 4 or switch to another route at the end of this visa
- The earliest a student can apply for this visa is 6 months before they travel
- It costs £244 to apply, plus £600 for Immigration Health Surcharge
- The applicant can enter the UK at any time while their visa is valid, and leave and come back at any time during their stay
- The applicant can study (but they may need ATAS for some courses)
- The applicant can work in most jobs
- The applicant can be self-employed and set up a company (restrictions apply)
- The applicant cannot work as a professional sportsperson (for example as a coach), doctor or dentist in training - unless they can show they are qualified for these jobs in the UK
- The applicant can not extend their stay on this visa
- The applicant can not access public funds
- The applicant can not bring in family members on their application - they must apply separately.
Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE)
- a Tier 5 GAE sponsor which can be an organisation running an approved exchange scheme
- a higher education institution (for example, if you are a sponsored researcher, visiting academic or examiner, University can sponsor you)
- a government department or agency.
A full list of schemes can be found in Appendix N of Immigration Rules.
Eligibility criteria are:
- Meeting the requirements of an individual scheme
- Receiving a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS)
- Maintenance funds of £945 in applicant's bank account for 90 days before they apply for their visa (exception is when applicant's sponsor has stated on their COS that they will certify the maintenance)
- Tuberculosis test results if an applicant is from a country where they must take the test
- Role at minimum RQF/NQF 3
- Must not be a permanent employee.
Some facts about this visa:
- Switching from Tier 4 to Tier 5 is possible in the UK while an applicant still has a valid Tier 4 visa, has obtained a degree in the UK or studying towards one and they meet the requirements of an individual scheme as well they are applying for work experience which is related to their studies
- It is possible to apply 3 months before the date an applicant is due to start work
- It costs £244 to apply in the UK or overseas
- There is IHS charge of £400 per year
- The applicant can study but may need ATAS for some courses
- The applicant can work in the job described in their COS
- The applicant can do a second job for up to 20 hours per week
- The applicant can do a job on the Tier 2 shortage occupation list for up to 20 hours per week as well as their main job
- The applicant can switch into Global Talent visa in the UK if they are in the government authorised exchange scheme for sponsored researchers and whilst their Tier 5 GAE is still valid
- The applicant can bring family members with them.
- The applicant can not take a permanent job,
- The applicant can not access get public funds (benefits, child benefits etc)
- The applicant can not switch from Tier 5 GAE into Tier 2 in the UK (exception – professional sportsperson).
New proposed post-study ‘Graduate’ route
On 11 September 2019 the UK Government announced the creation of a new immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies. This route would be similar to the previous Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) scheme which ended in April 2012.
This route has been proposed by the UKVI, however, it is not yet part of immigration law. The rules and the policy guidance governing this route is yet to be approved by the parliament. The projected timescale for publishing the policy guidance is April 2021.
It is planned that successful applicants on this route would be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of two years. It has been communicated that most types of employment and self-employment would be allowed except work as a professional sportsperson and as a doctor or dentist in training. A student could take up a full-time or part-time work at any level.
It has been announced that students who have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate or postgraduate level in any subject area and who have a valid Tier 4 visa would be eligible to apply after the route is launched in summer 2021. The UKVI has not yet published the costs, maintenance requirement or application process for this new route. They have announced that the application process will be simple, there will be an application fee and the applicants will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
If you are wholly sponsored (all your tuition fees and maintenance) for your studies by a government or an international scholarship agency, you will need your financial sponsor's consent letter to stay in the UK under this new route, as with other work categories. If you were wholly sponsored by a University, this consent letter will not be required.
UKVI has not yet provided information about dependants on this visa route, but it has been suggested that eligibility will be restricted to dependants who are already in the UK with the Tier 4 student.
The applicants will have to put in a new application, and they will need to have a valid Tier 4 leave at the time of application. Those applicants whose Tier 4 leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible to apply.
UKVI has prepared a fact sheet for this route and it is available here. We also encourage the students to have a look at UKCISA update here to see what may affect their eligibility for this visa route.
This route will not be extendable but the Graduate route visa holders may be able to switch into skilled work route subject to finding a job and meeting the requirements.
Innovator Visa, Investor Visa and Global Talent Visa
- innovative – the applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and creates competitive advantage
- viable – the applicant has the necessary skills and knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business
- scalable – there is evidence of structured planning and a potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets
- must have an endorsement letter – the University is not an endorser for this visa, please see the following link for endorsing bodies
- must meet the English language requirement (B2)
- must be at least 18 years old
- must have at least £50,000 in investment funds (with couple of exceptions)
- needs £945 in their bank account for 90 consecutive days before they apply.
It is possible to form a team with other Innovator applicants, but an applicant cannot share the same investment funds. The team must have £50,000 for each Innovator applicant.
Investor Visa route is aimed at applicants who want to invest £2,000,000 or more in the UK and meet other eligibility criteria. Funds must be in control of / available to the applicant and from a legitimate source. There are no English language or maintenance requirements for this visa route. More information on this route can be found here.
Global Talent route has replaced Exceptional Talent route from 20 February 2020. An applicant can apply for this visa if they work in a qualifying field and have been endorsed by one of the endorsing bodies. An applicant has to be endorsed as:
- a recognised leader (exceptional talent)
- an emerging leader (exceptional promise)
- under the UK Research and Innovation endorsed funder option
Find out if the field you work in qualifies.
The applicant must also be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
The Careers Service offers help and advice about working in the UK. We recommend that you start planning early if you wish to work in the UK after your studies.