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.
To stay on in the UK, you must:
- have successfully completed your course (UK Bachelor's degree or higher)
- have written permission/consent from your sponsors if you’re going to be sponsored by a government or international scholarship
In some cases, you may be able to apply for a new visa from within the UK, provided you do so before your current Tier 4 student visa expires.
Some of the main visa routes for international students wanting to stay on after their studies are:
Tier 2 (General)
This scheme is for graduates who have been offered a graduate-level job with a salary of at least £20,800.
You need to have a minimum BSc, BA degree or higher (or have completed 12 months of a PhD level programme
Your prospective employer will need to have a Tier 2 licence and will need to issue you with a Confirmation of Sponsorship (COS).
They can offer you a job for a maximum of five years.
You can switch to this visa in the UK as long as your Tier 4 student visa is still valid.
You’ll need to meet various requirements including maintenance requirements.
You can bring your dependants.
There are benefits to switching from a Tier 4 (General) visa to the Tier 2 (General) visa in the UK (including possible exemption from the resident labour market test (RLMT)). If you’d like to find out more about the Tier 2 (General) visa, contact the International Student Support Office. See below for contact details.
This visa route replaced the old Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme in March 2019.
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.
Tier 4 (Doctorate Extension Scheme) for PhD students
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.
Useful links and resources
Tier 2 and Tier 5
Registered sponsors - List of organisations registered to sponsor workers under Tier 2 and Tier 5; if an employer does not appear on this list, they cannot offer you Tier 2 or 5 sponsorship
Codes of Practice - Codes of Practice for Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsors; this part of the Immigration Rules lists certain jobs and the minimum salary that an employer can sponsor an individual for Tier 2
Tier 5 (GAE) - this link gives you an overview of the Tier 5 (GAE) visa and its eligibility criteria
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.