This page is about the options for switching within the UK from a student visa to a work visa. We also have separate information for those who want to work between the end of their studies and the end of their Tier 4 visa: see Work when you are no longer studying.
There are some key dates for current 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, but the headlines are:
- The new Skilled Worker for sponsored skilled work route replaced Tier 2 (General) on 1 December 2020. The changeover from Tier 2 (General) to Skilled Worker includes some changes, mostly beneficial and helpful for students who wish to work after studies. We have updated the information below about Skilled worker route (formerly Tier 2).
- 31 December 2020 is the deadline for EEA and Swiss nationals to move to the UK under their right of free movement under EU law. They can secure their ongoing right to work by applying under the Brexit - EU Settlement Scheme by the deadline of 30 June 2021. Those who arrive on or after 1 January 2021 will be subject to immigration control and will need visas for study and work
- In summer 2021 (actual date yet to be confirmed) the new 2-year Graduate immigration route is due to open. Students who are due to graduate in 2021 and currently distance learning outside the UK due to the pandemic will need to return to the UK for their last semester, deadline 6 April 2021, in order to be eligible under the Graduate route.
- The current Doctorate Extension Scheme is expected to close and merge with the Graduate route. PhD graduates will get 3 years' permission under the Graduate route, not two years.
- Separate from visa matters, the Coronavirus pandemic continues to affect all aspects of life in the UK including the economy, employment and recruitment. The most striking impact is on applications under the Skilled worker route (formerly Tier 2) where eligibility depends on securing a job offer. Our guide the Skilled Worker route includes some guidance from careers advisers about job-hunting during the pandemic.
For more information about upcoming changes, see also the Home Office publications "New immigration system: what you need to know" and the "UK point-based immigration system: further details statement", published on 13 July 2020. There was also guidance aimed at employers, published on 24 September 2020.
Within the information about each scheme, you will find links to the relevant Immigration Rules, guidance for applicants and for Home Office caseworkers, and the appropriate application forms. If you are an international PhD student, there is also an immigration toolkit available to read on the jobs.ac.uk website.
Under many of the work 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. All immigration applications normally include an immigration health surcharge.
If you want to discuss your eligibility for a specific scheme or if you need further advice, an International Student Adviser or a Careers Adviser at your institution may be able to advise, if they have expertise in this area. For schemes sponsored by an employer or endorsed by your university or another body, the sponsor or endorsing body itself is normally the best source of advice. 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. We have further information on seeking advice here.
- On this page we cover the options which allow you to apply in the UK to switch to permission to work. There are also Other Options for which you will need to apply in the country where you normally live.
- Check the requirements of the specific work or job, as well as the requirements of the scheme. For example, while some schemes in theory allow you to apply before you have completed your course and obtained your qualification, the employer's job specification may require the qualification.
- To protect your immigration status, you must apply before your current immigration permission expires.
- If your fees and living costs have been 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.