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

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.

Applications opened on 1 July 2021.

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.

To find out more, please come to one of our live zoom sessions during the following times and dates:

If you can’t make one of our Zoom sessions, you can watch this excellent video from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

When do I need to arrive in the UK if I want to apply for the Graduate visa?

The usual expectation of the Graduate visa is that you study your course fully in the UK. However, the government has recognised that some students have needed to study remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If you are studying remotely in the 2020/21 academic year, you need to arrive in the UK, with a valid Tier 4/Student visa by the dates listed below:

  • Masters courses started in September/October 2020: 27 September 2021 
  • Masters or undergraduate courses started January 2021: 27 September 2021
  • Undergraduate and PhD students completing in summer 2021: before visa expires
  • Courses starting
  • Longer courses finishing after Summer 2021: Remote study during 2020/21 should be disregarded when considering your GIR application as long as you return and complete your course in the UK.
  • Those starting courses in September 2021 should be in the UK by 6 April 2022

Make sure you understand the full implications of travelling to the UK under the restrictions of the current pandemic by reading the government web page: Entering the UK.

Eligibility

  • Must be on a Tier 4 or Student visa.
  • You must have successfully completed your degree programme at an HEI with a track record of compliance, and received your official results. The University will need to confirm this directly to the Home Office.
  • Must apply from within the UK before Tier 4 / Student visa expires. It is not possible to apply for the Graduate visa outside the UK.
  • You will need the CAS number that you used for your most recent Tier 4/Student visa application.
  • Paragraph GR 6.1 in Appendix Graduate explains that for a course of 12 months or less, you must have studied the whole course in the UK, and for a course of more than 12 months, you must have studied in the UK for at least 12 months. This is called the 'relevant period'. The Home Office has confirmed that you are required to have held Student permission for the whole of this 'relevant period'. If you do not meet this requirement because you have been distance learning outside the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may still be eligible. You must come to the UK on your Student permission, and your personal deadline for coming depends on how long your course was and, for courses of 12 months or less, when it started and whether you are entering the UK for the first time or returning.
  • If you have been financially sponsored in the last 12 months you will need sponsor consent.
  • You cannot apply if you have previously had the Doctorate Extension Scheme visa.
  • You can only have permission under the Graduate visa once.

 

Please refer to the UKCISA webpage for further eligibility requirements: Working after Studies. Alternatively, please contact ISA for the latest updates.

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: £700 per applicant.
  • Immigration Health Surcharge: £624 per year. Undergraduate and masters graduates will pay £1248 for a two year visa, PhD graduate will pay £1872 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.​ Please follow the steps below:

1)   Once you are aware of your final results, complete the request for release of results form and UKVI Compliance will release your results to UKVI.

2)   The UKVI Compliance team will email you once this reporting has been done.

3)   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.

Can I speak to an advisor?

To find out more and to see if you qualify, please come to one of our live Zoom sessions during the following times and dates:

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).
More details on how much money you need.


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.