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Home International Students The next stage Working after your studies

Working after your studies

If you are coming to the end of your studies in the UK, you might be considering the possibility of staying on in the UK to work. This section of the website explains some of the schemes that are likely to be of particular relevance to students at the end of their studies.

See the navigation menu on the left for full information about each of these schemes.

If you are studying for a doctorate, the doctorate extension scheme might be of particular interest to you. This allows you to spend one year in the UK after you have completed your studies undertaking employment or self-employment. You have to apply before you finish your doctorate.

Up to 1900 graduates a year who have been awarded a degree in the UK and who would like to set up a business can apply under Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), which we describe in detail under the heading Entrepreneurs, "high value migrants". They need to be endorsed by a UK institution, which from 6 April 2014 need not be the college or university where they studied. Up to 100 graduates of institutions in other countries can also apply under this route, endorsed by UK Trade and Investment.

Tier 2 is the main route if you would like to take up employment. The lowest wage for this scheme is £20,300 (£20,500 if your certificate of sponsorship is assigned on or after 6 April 2014), but this depends on the job and can be higher. In most cases, employers are not required to show that they advertised the job and that no one else could do it (resident labour market test) before they can offer it to you.

If you need work experience or training in order to qualify in your chosen profession, for example as an architect, lawyer, doctor or dentist, optometrist or pharmacist, this can be possible under Tier 4 (your study leave), Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) or Tier 2. We explain this in our section on the left Work experience, post-doc positions. You should discuss this with colleges and universities before you choose where to study, as some courses in architecture and pharmacy, for example, integrate the work experience with the study, which means you can do everything with your Tier 4 student immigration permission, while others will require you to make a different, work immigration application.

The details of the schemes change frequently, and this section does not provide a list of all schemes. For full details of all the options that could be available to you, see the Home Office website.

Within each category in this area of the website, you will also find links to the relevant Immigration Rules, guidance for applicants and Home Office caseworkers and the appropriate application forms.

If you are thinking about making an application under any of these schemes, and you want advice about the application, make an appointment with either an International Student Adviser or a Careers Adviser if they can offer such help. Some law centres, and other advice centres, have immigration specialists who will provide some basic advice free of charge. Some private solicitors also specialise in immigration law, although they will charge you a fee for their advice. 

Under many of the schemes, your spouse or civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner and children can apply to stay in the UK with you, or join you here.

Remember

  • For some of the schemes, you might have to return to your home country to apply from there. This is because most of the schemes have strict rules about who is allowed to 'switch' from another immigration category (for example, 'student'), into the scheme whilst still in the UK.
  • For many of the schemes, you must have successfully completed your course before you can apply to 'switch' into the scheme.
  • If you want to stay in the UK under one of these schemes, you must make your application before your current permission to be here as a student expires.
  • If you have been sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency for your studies, most of the schemes require that you obtain their written consent before you apply to stay on in the UK.

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Read Recruiting international students: a guide for employers by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisers (AGCAS)