There are some upcoming changes and key dates for students who want to work in the UK after studies. We will be incorporating the changes into the information on this page as the details become available, but the headlines are:
- The Tier 2 (General) route for sponsored skilled work will close to new applicants on 31 December 2020, and will be replaced the next day by the new Skilled Worker route for all non-UK, non-Irish nationals. The changeover from Tier 2 (General) to Skilled Worker includes some changes, mostly beneficial and helpful for students who wish to work after studies
- 31 December 2020 is also 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, and PhD graduates will get 3 years' permission under the graduate route, not two years.
- Separate from visa matters, but overlaying all of them, the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic is severely affecting the UK's economy, including employment and recruitment. The situation has been widely covered in the British media, and a panel of current international students was interviewed for "The Covid Generation", a BBC World Service podcast broadcast on 31 May 2020.
While we are waiting for immigration rules and related guidance for Graduate and Skilled worker routes, see the government guidance "New immigration system: what you need to know" and the "UK point-based immigration system: further details statement", published on 13 July 2020. You can also see guidance aimed at employers, published on 24 September 2020.
This page is about the options for switching within the UK from Tier 4 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.
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 you further, if they have expertise in immigration schemes for workers. For schemes sponsored by an employer or other body, the sponsor itself will normally be 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.
- These are only the options which allow you to apply in the UK. There are also Other Options for which you will need to apply in the country where you 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.