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Working after your studies


Once you've completed your studies, you do have certain options to apply for a job in the UK. There are several different visa routes primarily under the Points Based System available to you after you have completed your studies.

For most of these routes:

  • You must have successfully completed your course (UK Bachelor's degree or higher)


  • You can switch into some of these routes in the UK, but you must apply before your current Tier 4 visa expires
  • If you are sponsored by a government or international scholarship you must seek permission/consent from your sponsor (this must be provided in writing)
  • You can bring your dependants with you (certain routes only)


It is important you research any of the routes that are of particular interest to you, but some information on the most common ones can be found on this page. 

The available visa routes for international students are:


Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme

This route is for graduates with a genuine business idea.

You must be endorsed by a university on this scheme or the Department for International Trade (DIT) as part of the graduate entrepreneur programme (Sirius). Please note that Royal Holloway does not endorse students on this scheme. You can ask other universities to endorse you on this scheme (list of universities on this scheme are available on the UKVI website).

  • The duration of this visa is 12 months, with an opportunity to possibly extend this by a further 12 months

  • You need to have a minimum BSc, BA degree or equivalent and also other requirements including maintenance

  • You can also bring your dependant

Additional information is available on the UKCISA website.

You can find information about all Tier 1 schemes 


Tier 2 (General)

This route is the most common route for students looking for work after studies. If you are applying to switch into Tier 2 from a Tier 4 visa, then you will be exempt from certain requirements that other Tier 2 applicants may have to adhere to. For more information on how this affects you, or what you need to look out for, please contact the International Student Support Office. The basic requirements are listed below:

  • You need to have a minimum BSc, BA degree or higher

  • To qualify, an employer (licensed Tier 2 sponsor) needs to have offered you a graduate level job at RQF 6

  • Your salary must start from a minimum of £20,800

  • The employer need to have a Tier 2 licence

  • They can offer you a job for a maximum of five years; after five years of being in the UK under Tier 2 (with a minimum salary of £35,800) you will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

  • You can switch to this visa in the UK as long as your Tier 4 visa is still valid; this also gives you some exemptions such as the resident labour market test (RLMT)

  • A licensed Tier 2 sponsor needs to issue a CoS (Confirmation of Sponsorship)

  • You must have held £945 in an account for 90 days consecutively before applying (unless your sponsor is certifying this)

  • You can bring your dependants with you on this visa

For more information about Tier 2 please contact the International Student Support Office.


Doctorate extension scheme (DES) - PhD students only

For students who are about to complete their PhD and who want to remain in the UK for a further 12 months.

  • You can work in a full time job

  • Royal Holloway can sponsor you for DES

  • You cannot apply for DES outside the UK

  • The College will issue a CAS when your award date has been confirmed

  • Your current visa must still be valid when you apply, and you must submit your DES 60 days prior to receiving your award date

  • You can switch to a Tier 2 visa (as long as your visa has not expired)

Detailed information is available on our website.


Tier 5

The Tier 5 visa route is most commonly used by people coming to the UK through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice, and to experience the UK's social and cultural life.

There are two types of Tier 5 routes 


Tier 5 (Youth Mobility)

  • You can work in the UK for up to two years. This scheme is available to nationals of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Taiwan, and to British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Nationals (Overseas) 
  • You cannot switch from Tier 4 Student category to this scheme whilst you are in the UK. For more information please contact the International Student Support Office.


Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange)

You can apply for a Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) visa if you: 

  • Have a sponsor from outside the European Economic area and Switzerland


Useful links and resources

UKCISA: Information and advice about working after studies. It is a good idea to register with them to get the latest immigration updates which could be applicable to you.)

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) different work visas routes 

UKVI Tier 2 Information

Tier 2 policy guidance

A list of Tier 2 and tier 5 registered of sponsors – employers

Tier 2 Shortage Occupational jobs: in Appendix K of the Immigration Rules

Immigration rules on Codes of Practice for skilled work 

Guidance on codes of practice

Information on Government Authorised scheme (Tier 5) 

Details of Government Authorised Schemes (Tier 5)

Information of overarching bodies are available on the Immigration Rules Appendix N: authorised exchange schemes (Tier 5)

Gain a post study work experience via Tier GAE visa 



How can the Careers & Employability Service help me?

Want to find out more about working in the UK? Want to improve your skills and employability for when you return home? The Careers & Employability Service provides a range of services to help you, including:

  • Discuss your career aspirations or issues
  • Get your CV or application checked
  • Events to improve your skills and help you learn about your job options



The information provided here is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, immigration regulations are subject to change and it is the responsibility of the visa applicant to check UK government agencies for the latest detailed information and advice.


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