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Working after your studies

Find out what work visas are available for international students after you graduate.

There are a number of different visa options for international students who want to work in the UK after completing their studies. You can find some information and links below for the different visa categories.

For a full list of UK work visas, please see the web pages..

If you would like to know what work you can do with your Student / Tier 4 visa after your course has finished, please see our guide on working with your Student or Tier 4 visa.

Graduate visa

Please visit our Graduate visa web page for full details of the Graduate visa.

Skilled worker visa

To apply for a Skilled worker visa you will need a job offer in an eligible occupation code listed in Appendix Skilled Occupations. The job must be working for an employer registered as a Worker sponsor. The general salary threshold is set at £25,600 per year (or the 'going rate' for the role, whichever is higher). You may be able to get sponsorship for a job with a lower salary offer if any of the following apply:

  • the job is in the Shortage Occupation List
  • you have a doctoral qualification relevant to your job
  • you have a doctoral qualification in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) subject
  • you are under the age of 26
  • your job offer is for a postdoctoral position in science or higher education
  • you'll be working towards a recognised qualification in a UK regulated profession
  • you'll be working towards full registration or chartered status in the job you're being sponsored for
  • you're currently in the UK on a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa
  • you are switching from a Student visa (please see the section below for more information)

Please visit the HR web pages for more information on the Skilled Worker visa.

Applying for the Skilled Worker visa if you have a Student visa

You may also be able to get sponsorship for a job with a lower salary if:

  • your most recent immigration permission was as a Student and that visa is still valid or expired less than 2 years ago
  • you studied a UK bachelors degree, masters degree, PhD or other doctoral qualification, a PGCE, a PGDE
  • you have completed the course as listed above, or you are applying no more than 3 months before you are expected to complete the course
  • you are studying in the UK for a PhD and have completed at least 12 months of study towards the PhD

In this case, the salary for the job must equal or exceed both £20,480 per year and 70% of the going rate for the occupation code.

Expected course completion letter

If you want to apply for the Skilled Worker visa three months before your course completion, you will need to provide an expected course completion letter as part of your application. You can request this through emailing and it will be emailed back to you. The letter will confirm your course title and award, the course duration, and the date you are expected to complete the course. The expected course completion date will be the official course end date according to SAMIS, not the last day you sit exams or submit coursework.

If you are a PhD student, you can apply to switch to the Skilled Worker visa after you have completed 12 months of study for your PhD. Instead of an expected course completion letter, you can provide the standard student status letter.

If you want to apply for a Skilled Worker visa after you have received your results, you do not need to request a letter as you can provide your academic transcript or degree certificate.

Skilled Worker visa conditions

After your Skilled Worker visa is granted, the Skilled Worker visa conditions will apply. You will be able to do:

  • the job described in your CoS, working for your Skilled Worker sponsor
  • a supplementary job in the same sector and at the same level, for up to 20 hours per week
  • voluntary work

Your Skilled Worker visa can be granted for up to five years depending on the length of your work contract. You can apply to extend your Skilled Worker visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.

Starting work

If you apply in the UK for the Skilled Worker visa, you can normally start work as soon as you have applied. However, your employer may prefer for you to wait for the outcome of your visa application before starting work. In all cases, please check directly with your employer when they expect you to start work.

Start-up visa

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 SETsquared Bath supports this visa scheme. To apply for the Start-up visa, you need to be endorsed by SETsquared Bath. You will need to go through a detailed application process to get endorsed. SETsquared Bath 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 SETsquared Bath. 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 SETsquared Bath to discuss your business idea. Once SETsquared Bath 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 SETsquared Bath
  • an endorsement letter from the University
  • financial evidence demonstrating £945 for a consecutive 90-day period
  • 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.

Starting work on your business for Tier 4 visa holders

If you currently have a Tier 4 visa and want to switch to the Start-up you cannot work as self-employed or engage in business activity until you apply for your Start-up visa or it is granted, depending on when your Tier 4 visa was granted (see below for details). This includes registering your business with Companies House. Please speak to an adviser in a drop-in session if you would like to discuss your working conditions with your Tier 4 visa.

If your Tier 4 visa was granted before 01/10/2019 and you want to switch to this visa you cannot start working as self-employed, or engaging in business activity until their Start-up visa is granted.

If your Tier 4 visa was granted on or after 01/10/2019 and you want to switch to this visa you cannot start working as self-employed, or engaging in business activity until you have applied for their Start-up visa.

Other categories

British National (Overseas)

If you’re from Hong Kong and hold a British national (overseas) passport, you and your family members can apply for a British National (Overseas) visa (also called the BNO visa). This visa allows you to live, work and study in the UK but you will not be able to access public funds. The visa is granted for either two years and six months, or five years and can be extended. You can also apply to settle in the UK after you’ve lived in the UK for five years on a BNO visa.

To be eligible to apply, your permanent home must be:

  • in Hong Kong, if you’re applying from outside the UK
  • in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, or Hong Kong, if you’re applying in the UK

Please visit the webpages for full details of the BNO visa.

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 Youth Mobility visa:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Korea (certificate of sponsorship required)
  • Taiwan
  • British overseas citizen
  • British overseas territories citizen
  • British national (overseas)

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 Youth Mobility visa or switch to a different visa category in the UK.

Government Authorised Exchange

You may be able to apply for a Government Authorised Exchange visa if you want to do any of the following:

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.

Please see the information on the UKVI web pages for a full list of the documents you must provide.

Global Talent Visa

You can apply for a Global Talent visa if you work in a qualifying field and have been endorsed:

  • as a recognised leader (exceptional talent)
  • as an emerging leader (exceptional promise)
  • under the UK Research and Innovation endorsed funder option

To apply for this visa, you will first need to apply to be endorsed by the relevant body according your field. The Global Talent visa has 6 endorsing bodies:

If endorsement is granted, you can then apply for the Global Talent visa. Most applications cost £456 for the endorsement application and then £152 for the visa application. The visa is granted for between one and five years and you can bring dependants with you to the UK.

Please see the information on the web pages for full details about the application process.

Permanent Settlement

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 Skilled Worker visa and meet the minimum wage requirements
  • you have been in the UK for ten years on some types of visa (including Student / Tier 4 visa)

Please note, time spent on the 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.


If you have any questions, please contact us.