If you want to work in the UK after your studies, you’ll need to apply for a visa to do so. There are a number of different routes available.
The list of available options below is not exhaustive, but these are the routes that students most commonly opt for/enquire about.
Graduate Immigration Route (opening 1 July 2021)
The graduate immigration route (GIR) is a new route that was announced back in September 2019. It is a new route designed for graduates of programmes at degree level or above to remain in the UK and find work. For details on GIR, and for personal advice and guidance, please contact the International Student Support Office.
- GIR will formally open for applications on 1 July 2021
- Successful applicants will be granted 2 years of leave (3 years of leave will be granted to successful PhD graduates)
- Applications must be made in the UK
- There are no documentary requirements to apply for GIR (the only exception to this is where you have had an official financial sponsor within the previous 12 months of study you will need to provide the sponsor's written consent for you to apply under GIR)
- You must have successfully completed the course of study which was undertaken during your last grant of immigration permission
- You cannot apply for GIR if you have previously held leave on the Doctorate Extension Scheme
- You must pay the immigration health surcharge (£624/year of leave)
- GIR will allow work at any skill level (you do not require sponsorship for this route)
- GIR visa holders will be able to switch into other work routes (i.e. Skilled Worker route)
Due to Covid-19 there are rules in place for when students need to return to the UK to qualify for this visa. The dates to enter the UK depend on what programme you are studying, when you began your studies, and whether you have previously entered the UK using your current Tier 4/Student leave. Please find details on these dates below:
My course is 12 months long or less, I started in 2020 or 2021, and I have not yet entered the UK - you must arrive in the UK on/before 27 September 2021 or before your visa expiry date, whichever is sooner.
My course is 12 months long or less, I started in either 2020 or 2021, I have previously entered the UK: you must be present in the UK before your course end date on your CAS
My course is longer than 12 months: you must be present in the UK before your Tier 4/Student permission ends & any distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 will not affect your eligibility for GIR
Skilled Worker Route (replaced Tier 2, 1 December 2020)
The Skilled Worker Route (SWR) replaced the Tier 2 visa on 1 December 2020. This visa is for students and graduates that have been offered a graduate-level job in the UK. It is a sponsored visa, so an employer would need to sponsor you.
SWR is part of the point-based immigration system and therefore you must meet a certain points requirement in your application. You must obtain 70 points:
- Sponsorship (valid certificate of sponsorship from employer): 20 points
- Job at an appropriate skill level: 20 points
- English language skills at B1 level: 10 points
- Tradeable points: 20 points
The tradeable points refer to salary levels for the role you are being sponsored for. The required salary level varies depending on the situation, more information can be found here: Skilled Worker Route tradeable points (SW 4.2). Please note that Student visa holders and Graduate visa holders are likely to qualify as "new entrants" (Option E), although please do speak with the International Student Support Office for individual guidance if you are unsure if you would qualify under Option E.
Students in the UK holding Tier 4 or Student leave are eligible to apply under SWR up-to 3 months before their course ends (UG & PGT), or after 12 months of study (PhD students).
SWR requires you to demonstrate that you have held £1,270 in a valid bank account for 90 days prior to the date of application (this can also be demonstrated by the employer themselves if applicable).
SWR applications will cost £610 (up-to 3 years) or £1,220 (more than 3 years) for applications made overseas, and £704 (up-to 3 years) or £1,408 (more than 3 years) for applications made in the UK. The immigration health surcharge will be charged at £624/year of leave.
For further details on SWR please see UKCISA's website, or contact the International Student Support Office directly.
This visa is for graduates looking to set-up their own businesses in the UK. You must be endorsed by a UK higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs (more information on these businesses here).
- Royal Holloway does offer sponsorship for this visa, please contact the International Student Support Office for further details
- Leave will be issued for 2 years under the Start-up route
- To be eligible for endorsement under this route, your business must have been assessed as innovative, viable, and scalable by an approved body (i.e. Royal Holloway)
- You must meet other requirements such as being over 18, level of English language, and be able to prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself (£945 held in an account for 90 days consecutively prior to the date of application)
- You can bring your dependants
- You can study
- You may be eligible to switch into this category if you are currently on the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa (contact ISSO for more information)
For more on the Start-up visa please see the GOV.UK webpage.
Doctorate Extension Scheme (closing 1 July 2021)
Please note that the Doctorate Extension Scheme is due to close on 1 July 2021.
The Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) is for students who are about to complete their PhD and want to remain in the UK for a further 12 months either to work, or to look for work. For more detail, see our DES information page.
There are two types of Tier 5 visa:
- This scheme is aimed at people who want to experience life and work in the UK.
- It allows you to work in the UK for up to two years.
- It’s open 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 can’t switch from a Tier 4 student visa to this scheme while you are in the UK. Instead, you’ll have to apply from your home country.
For more information, contact the International Student Support Office.
This scheme is for people who want to:
- come to the UK for a short time for work experience or training
- attend an Overseas Government Language Programme or do research through an approved government authorised exchange scheme.
You must have a sponsor from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland and must meet the other eligibility requirements. Please note that Royal Holloway cannot sponsor individuals directly applying under this branch of Tier 5.
Further details on Tier 5 (GAE) can be found here: Tier 5 (GAE).
Useful links and resources
How the Careers & Employability Service can help you
The Careers & Employability Service can help you find out more about working in the UK. And if you’re planning to return home, they can help you improve your skills and employability. Services include:
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.