Visas for working after study

This page is about the options for switching within the UK from a Student Visa (Tier 4) to a work visa. There are some upcoming changes and key dates for students who want to work in the UK after their studies. We will incorporate the changes into the information on this page as the full details become available.

If you need help finding a job, please contact our Careers Service for information, advice and guidance for our students and graduates on building skills, experience and contacts to improve employability.

Graduate visa
Are you thinking about working in the UK after you have successfully completed your degree at the University of Plymouth? Do you want to find out more about the Graduate Visa?
If yes, we are running online information sessions which are bookable at myCareer – sign in with your student log in and then type in ‘Let’s talk about the Graduate Visa’ in the search box. 
The Graduate visa is a new work route for those who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a UK Higher Education Provider (with a track record of compliance). Your application does not need sponsorship or any endorsement by an employer or by your university. International students who have successfully completed the undergraduate or masters degree stated on their CAS within the original course time frame can apply for this visa and benefit from two years’ work experience in the UK, subject to various conditions. PhD students can qualify for 3 years.
You can see full details of the scheme on the Home office web pages.
The UKCISA Working after Studies web page is also an excellent source to refer to.

Eligibility

For full up to date eligibility criteria, please refer to the Gov.uk Graduate visa webpage, the Graduate Route guidance Version 2.0 and the UKCISA Graduate route webpage
Listed below are some of the basic eligibility criteria. You can apply for a Graduate visa if all of the following are true:
  • you’re in the UK
  • your current visa is a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • you studied a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree or other eligible course for a minimum period of time (GR6.1) with your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • your education provider (such as your university or college) has told the Home Office you’ve successfully completed your course
If you have successfully passed your degree the University will proceed to confirm to the UKVI that you have successfully completed your course as part of its reporting responsibilities in relation to Graduate Route. You cannot apply for Graduate Route until the University has reported.
If you have resits, repeats or referrals this may affect your ability to apply for the Graduate Route. You will need to contact us as soon as you know you have repeats, resits or referrals so we can provide advice for your situation. If you have any of these, you may need a visa extension but in some cases this will also mean you are not eligible for the Graduate Route.
Additionally, if you do not achieve the award for the programme of study stated on your original CAS, you will not be eligible to a apply. For example, if you have been studying a masters degree but only been awarded a PGDip, you will not be eligible to apply for the Graduate Visa. 
If you are not satisfied with your outcome and are considering making an academic appeal, or a claim for post-board extenuating circumstances meaning your results are subject to change, please inform us as a matter of urgency. In doing so, please be aware that the University may withdraw the report to the UKVI, which will make you ineligible to apply for Graduate Route at this time. 
You cannot apply to the scheme if you have previously held a Graduate Route visa or Doctorate Extension Scheme visa. You can only apply for and be granted the Graduate Route visa once.
There is nothing in the current rules to prevent those who have previously held a Tier 1 (Post Study Work) route applying to the Graduate route. 
As part of the Application Process, the University will need to confirm your qualification to the Home Office before the day you apply. The University will email you confirming when this report has been made to let you know it is okay to apply.
If you are not sure whether your qualification is eligible, please contact us:
  • Attend one of our ‘Let’s talk about the Graduate visa’ Zoom sessions listed below.
    ‘Let’s talk about the Graduate Visa’
    Zoom session
    Wednesday 11 January 2023
    11:00–12:00
    Join Zoom Meeting
  • Email Student Services studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk with your question.
  • Come to one of our general drop in sessions: chat with us live on Zoom 09:30–10:30, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We are also available for in-person sessions at the Student Hub in the Charles Seale-Hayne library on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 09:30–10:30 (no need to book).

How much will it cost me?

You will need to make the following payments at the point of application, by debit or credit card:
  • Application fee: £715 per applicant.
  • Immigration Health Surcharge: £624 per year. Undergraduate and masters graduates will pay £1,248 for a two year visa, PhD graduate will pay £1,872 for a three year visa.
There is no requirement to show you have a certain amount of money (known as the 'maintenance requirement') in a bank account. However, you will of course still need money to pay your living costs. Do you have enough money to support yourself until you find work? What is your back up plan if you do not find work? As with your Tier 4 or Student permission you will not have access to public funds, including any welfare benefits aimed at those who are not working or on a low income.
How feasible is it for you to find a job in the UK under the current circumstances? Seek advice from our Careers Service.

How can I apply?

Please look at the Graduate route guidance application document to help you complete the online Graduate visa application form.
You can only apply in the UK. There is no provision to apply in your home country or in any other country other than the UK. If you are currently outside the UK with valid Tier 4 or Student permission, you will need to travel to the UK before it expires and refer to the question above ‘When do I need to arrive in the UK if I want to apply for the Graduate visa?’
Before you can apply, the University will need to report on your CAS that you have successfully completed your course. This reporting should happen automatically when your results are officially confirmed and published. You must have successfully completed your course and achieved the qualification outcome and must appear to meet the eligibility criteria for the route. If you have an ongoing appeal publication of your results may be delayed.

1) The UKVI Compliance team will email you once this reporting has been done. If you have not heard from them within 10 working days of your results being published you can email them at UKVI-reporting@plymouth.ac.uk.

2) Please ensure you have checked your junk folder first in case the email is there.

3) We will do our best to ensure your successful completion is reported to UKVI in a timely way, but if your visa is expiring very soon and you have not received the email mentioned above, please get in touch with us.

4) Apply for the Graduate visa
  • The process will be entirely online for most.
  • You will need to download the UK Immigration: ID check app.
  • Verify your ID by scanning your ID document using the app and then completing the rest of the application form.
  • Most will not get a BRP, but permission will be electronic.
Once the Graduate visa is granted, you can prove your immigration status using the view and prove your immigration status service.

Can dependants join me on this Graduate visa?

Your partner and/or child under 18 who is already in the UK as your Tier 4 or Student dependant can apply to extend their stay as your Graduate visa dependant.
A partner or child who is outside the UK cannot apply for a visa as your Graduate visa dependant. They would need to apply as your Student dependant, if eligible, and come to the UK on that basis then apply for permission to stay on as your Graduate visa dependant.
You will need to pay the same application and Immigration Health Surcharge fees for each dependant.

What type of work can I do?

While your Graduate visa application is pending, you can continue to work under the conditions of your Student or Tier 4 permission. See Student work.
When your Graduate visa permission is issued you can do any work, either employed or self-employed, except working as a professional sportsperson or coach. You can take work at any level of salary or skill, but if your plan is to find a job for which you can eventually be sponsored under the Skilled Worker route, you should check which jobs are eligible for that.
Employers should know about the new Graduate visa, and they should understand that with this permission you can take any work you wish without sponsorship and without any special actions for the employer. However you may be their first employee with the Graduate visa, and they may not fully understand the route at first. You can refer their HR to this very basic guidance from the Home Office for employers.
If you want to set up as self-employed, see the detailed guidance from the UK government about all the steps and requirements. If you want to continue your business when your Graduate visa permission expires, you will need to meet the requirements of an extension under the Start-up and innovator schemes.

Can I study on the Graduate visa?

Study is restricted under the Graduate visa. The study condition states that you cannot study any course which could in theory be sponsored under the Student route.
Examples of permitted study therefore include:
  • Part-time undergraduate course
  • English language courses
  • Some professional courses
  • Any study at a college or university that is not a Student route visa sponsor
  • Online study
  • Evening classes
  • Recreational courses
Graduate dependants do not have this study restriction. 
Skilled Worker visa (formerly Tier 2)
If you have been offered employment at the University of Plymouth, please contact our Human Resources team hr@plymouth.ac.uk who will assist you with the Skilled Worker process.
If you have been offered a job elsewhere or currently looking, although we cannot offer specific advice on this visa category, the following guidance may help.

What is the Skilled Worker visa?

A Skilled Worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. Applicants must score 70 points under the UK points-based immigration system.

Do I qualify?

Detailed information can be found on the GOV UK website but here is a brief summary to see if you qualify for a Skilled Worker visa:
  • You must have a job offer from an approved UK employer before you apply for a Skilled Worker visa. Approved employers are also known as sponsors, because they are sponsoring you to come to – or stay in – the UK. View the list of approved UK employers.
  • Check if the job is eligible. You need to know its 4-digit occupation code, which can be found using the ONS occupation coding tool. When you know your occupation code, view the table of eligible jobs to see if it’s included.
  • Check the minimum salary requirements. You’ll usually need to be paid at least £25,600 per year or £10.10 per hour, whichever is higher. Each occupation code has its own annual going rate. Check the going rate for your job in the going rates table. There are different salary rules if you work in some healthcare or education jobs. If you do not meet the usual salary requirements and do not work in healthcare or education, you might still be eligible, so check when you can be paid less.
  • To apply for the visa, you will need a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ (COS) from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK.
  • You must speak English to the required standard.

How long can I stay?

Your visa can last for up to 5 years before you need to extend it. You’ll need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employer. You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements. After 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’). This gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

How and when can you apply?

How you apply depends on whether you’re:
If you want to change your job or employer, you must apply to update your visa.
You can include your partner and children in your application to stay in the UK if they are eligible.

You must have completed (or be applying no more than 3 months before they are expected to complete) the course. An exception applies to PhDs and other doctoral qualifications, where the applicant must have completed at least 12 months’ study in the UK towards the qualification.

How long does it take?

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship.
Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within:
  • 3 weeks if you’re outside the UK
  • 8 weeks if you’re inside the UK.
If you need to go to an appointment, you may be able to pay for a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you’re outside the UK or inside the UK.

What money do I need?

When you apply for a Skilled Worker visa, you’ll need to have enough money to:
  • pay the application fee – the standard fee ranges from £610 to £1,408 depending on your circumstances
  • pay the healthcare surcharge – this is usually £624 per year
  • support yourself when you arrive in the UK – you’ll usually need to have at least £1,270 available (unless you’re exempt).

What can I do? What can I not do?

With a Skilled Worker visa you can:
  • work in an eligible job
  • study (but your main reason for being in the UK must be for work)
  • bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’ if they’re eligible
  • take on additional work in certain circumstances
  • do voluntary work
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years and meet the other eligibility requirements.
You cannot:
  • apply for most benefits (public funds) or the State Pension
  • change jobs or employer unless you apply to update your visa.
If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with a Skilled Worker visa. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides further details on the Skilled Worker route plus other working visa options when working after your studies
EEA and Swiss nationals, and family

EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members who are living in the UK should apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. Settled status and pre-settled status allows you to work in the UK without restrictions. 

European Union nationals who come to the UK after 1 January 2021 will be subject to immigration control. Please visit EU Settlement Scheme or contact ISA for further details

Start-Up and Innovator Schemes (formerly Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur)

The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route is now closed to new applicants. See the Start-up scheme on the UKCISA website which has replaced it.

For information and advice, we recommend contacting the UKCISA’s Student Advice Line on +4420 7788 9214.

Our advisors are only trained to give immigration advice for studying in the UK and cannot offer advice on working visas. 
We will offer guidance where we can but will advise you to seek independent immigration employment advice if we feel your needs are beyond our area of expertise.