Working after your studies
Find out what work visas are available for Tier 4 students after you graduate.
Tier 2 (General) visa
The Tier 2 (General) visa is the main visa for working in the UK. To apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa you will need a graduate level job offer with an employer registered as a Tier 2 sponsor. The job must meet the Tier 2 minimum wage threshold of £30,000 or the appropriate graduate rate for the job you have been offered as published in the Codes of Practice.
If you are currently a Tier 4 visa holder, you can apply in the UK or overseas from three months before you are due to start work. There are some differences in the application process depending on where you apply.
If you are applying for a Tier 2 visa from overseas, and your job is not on the shortage occupation list, your employer must complete the Resident Labour Market Test before they can offer you the job. The Resident Labour Market Test requires an employer to advertise a job in an appropriate way to be able to show that there is no suitable settled worker for the job. Your employer may also need to pay a skills charge of £1,000 a year if you apply from overseas. There is also a cap on the number of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) that can be assigned for overseas applications. If this cap has been reached, your employer may not be able to assign a CoS to you.
Applying in the UK
Some students are able to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa in the UK. If your Tier 4 visa is still valid when you apply for your Tier 2 visa, this is known as 'switching' to a Tier 2 visa. The earliest you can apply to switch to a Tier 2 visa is no more than three months before your course completion date, or after you have completed at least 12 months of study if you are a PhD student. Your employer will not need to conduct the Resident Labour Market Test or pay the skills charge if you apply to switch to a Tier 2 visa in the UK. You will also qualify as a 'new entrant' in terms of your wage.
Documents you must provide
You will need to provide the following documents with your Tier 2 visa application:
- financial evidence showing £945 held in your account for a consecutive 90-day period
- Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your employer
- degree certificate or student status letter (if you are applying in the UK)
- if you are currently financially sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency or, if you have been sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency within the 12-month period before you apply for a Tier 2 visa, you must provide a letter from your financial sponsor consenting to this application
You will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your application. Please see the information on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) web pages for a full list of documents you must provide.
Student status letter
If you want to apply for a Tier 2 visa three months before your course completion, or after you have completed 12 months of study if you are a PhD student, you will need to provide a student status letter as part of your application. You can request this through SAMIS on the web and collect it from 4 West Student Services a couple of days later. The letter will confirm your course title and award, the course duration, the date you are expected to complete the course or confirmation of 12 months study if you are a PhD student.
If you want to apply for a Tier 2 visa after you have received your results, you do not need to request this letter as you can provide your academic transcript or degree certificate.
Tier 2 (General) visa conditions
After your Tier 2 visa is granted, the Tier 2 work conditions will apply. You will be able to do:
- the job described in your CoS, working for your Tier 2 sponsor
- a supplementary job in the same sector and at the same level, for up to 20 hours per week
- voluntary work
Your Tier 2 visa can be granted for up to five years depending on the length of your work contract. You can apply to extend your Tier 2 visa for up to another five years, as long as your total stay is not more than 6 years.
If your Tier 2 visa is granted before you receive your degree results, you can start work as long as your employer allows it. Your employer may prefer for you to wait for your degree results before allowing you to start work.
If you apply for your Tier 2 visa after receiving your degree results you can start work as soon as you have made the application. But, your employer may prefer for you to wait for the outcome of your visa application before allowing you to start work.
If you have not had a decision on your Tier 2 visa application, and you have not received your degree results, you cannot start work until either your Tier 2 visa is granted, or you receive your degree results.
Start-up visa and Tier 1
If you would like to set up your own business in the UK, you may be able to apply for a Start-up visa.
The University of Bath Innovation Centre (UBIC) supports this visa scheme. To apply for the Start-up visa, you need to be endorsed by UBIC. You will need to go through a detailed application process to get endorsed. UBIC will apply the SETSquared criteria when assessing your business plan and whether to endorse you. If you are successful, you will need to pay for membership with UBIC. You will receive mentoring, training and introductions to investors. You will also have access to office space to help you build your business from Bath. If you are interested in this scheme, you should contact UBIC to discuss your business idea. Once UBIC have agreed to endorse you, you will need to apply for your visa.
To apply for this visa you will need:
- an 'innovative, viable and scalable' business idea that has been endorsed by the University of Bath Innovation Centre (UBIC)
- an endorsement letter from the University
- financial evidence demonstrating £945 for a consecutive 90-day period if you apply in the UK
- your current passport
- police registration certificate (if you are required to register)
You can apply for this visa from overseas or in the UK. Your visa will be granted for two years. If you have already completed one year on the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa, your Start-up visa will only be granted for one year. If you would like to discuss the visa application process, please attend a drop-in session.
Tier 1 (Investor)
If you are planning on investing a significant amount of funds into the UK, you may be able to apply for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa.
To apply for this visa you will need:
- access to at least £2,000,000 of funds available to invest in the UK
- you must not be investing in property
Your visa will be granted for up to three years and four months. You can then apply to extend it for an additional two years.
Tier 5 visas
Tier 5 (Youth Mobility)
If you are between 18 and 30 years old and a national of one of the following countries, you can apply for a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) visa:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea (certificate of sponsorship required)
You can also apply if you’re 18 to 30 years old and a:
- British overseas citizen
- British overseas territories citizen
- British national (overseas)
You must have £1,890 in your bank account on the date of your application. You must apply from overseas. Your visa will be granted for two years. After your visa is granted, you can work full time in the UK in most jobs. You can also be self-employed and set up your own business.
You cannot extend a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) visa or switch to a different visa category in the UK.
Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange)
You may be able to apply for a Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa if you want to do any of the following:
- gain work experience or training in the UK
- take part in an Overseas Government Language Programme
- take part in research or a fellowship through an approved government authorised exchange scheme
You can apply for this visa from the UK or from overseas. Your visa will be issued for up to 12 or 24 months depending on the scheme you are applying for. To apply for this visa you must have the following documents:
- a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a Tier 5 sponsor
- your degree certificate from a UK institution (if you are applying in the UK)
- £945 for a consecutive 90-day period if you apply in the UK
You may need to provide additional documents as part of your visa application. Please see the information on the UKVI web pages for a full list of the documents you must provide.
Permanent settlement in the UK is often referred to as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). You may be able to apply for ILR if you meet the following criteria:
- you have worked in the UK for five years on a Tier 2 visa and meet the minimum wage requirements (between April 2019 and April 2020 you will need to have a salary of £35,800 or the appropriate professional salary on the code of practice)
- you have been in the UK for ten years on some types of visa (including Tier 4)
Please note, time spent on the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa does not count towards the five year settlement route.
If you're considering applying for ILR now or in the future, please be aware that the Immigration Rules change frequently. You must meet all the requirements of the Immigration Rules at the time when you make your application. As we are not trained in this area of immigration, we recommend getting specialist legal advice for settlement applications.
Other visa types
If you would like to know what work you can do on your Tier 4 visa after your course has finished, please see our guide on work you are allowed to do on your full-time Tier 4 Visa.
For a full list of UK work visas, please see the gov.uk web pages.