Working after your studies

If you wish to remain in the UK beyond that period and are not a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national then you will need to apply for visa permission to do so. Please note, you will only be able to make a new visa application once you have your final degree results confirmed by the university.

The most commonly available visa routes for graduates to work in the UK are as follows:

Start-up visa

UCL is an endorsing institution under the Start-up visa route (formerly the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur). This visa route is for UCL Graduates who wish to develop ideas or entrepreneurial skills by setting up a innovative, viable and scalable business in the UK. 

Applicants do not need any funds to invest in their business at this stage. Applicants will spend the majority of their time developing their businesses but can also take on other work outside of their businesses, to support themselves.

Successful applicants can bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK.

This route offers a one-off, 2-year visa. After 2 years, you can switch into the Innovator category to extend your stay and develop your businesses in the UK.

The Fees for the Start-up visa are as follows: 

Inside the UK - £493 (Council of Europe Social Charter (CESC) discount of £55 applies inside UK to main applicant)

Outside the UK - £363


For more information about this visa please visit the UCL Innovation and Enterprise page.

Tier 2 (General)

In order to qualify for Tier 2 you need to meet the following criteria

  • You must have a job offer from an employer who holds a Tier 2 sponsors licence
  • Your job must be in a shortage area or be at a minimum skill level
  • It must be at a minimum wage of £20,800 (though this can be higher depending on the job)
  • It must have met the Resident Market Labour Test. This means it has to be advertised for a minimum period in approved locations and that at interview there was not a UK candidate of the same calibre or higher available. Please note: International Graduates are exempt from this requirement if they apply within 4 months of the end date of their course and have a valid Tier 4 visa
  • You need to prove your English language. Successful completion of a UK degree automatically qualifies you for this
  • You must meet the minimum maintenance requirement

Switching from Tier 4

If you wish to switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2 in the UK you must meet the following:

  • You hold a valid Tier 4 visa
  • You have completed at least 12 months of study in the UK towards a UK PhD, or you have completed a UK recognised Bachelor's or Master's degree or a UK Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Professional Graduate Diploma of Education (PGDE), or you will complete such a course less than 3 months after you make the Tier 2 application. You will need a letter from your department to confirm this and therefore should request your department to contact the Student Immigration Advice Team so we can provide them with a template for this.
  • have successfully completed and passed (received your official award results) for a Bachelor degree or postgraduate Masters or Doctorate studies. Postgraduate Certificates or Diplomas are not eligible
  • You meet the general Tier 2 criteria as above (except for the Resident Market Labour Test which is exempt for Tier 4 visa holders)

You can find more information about this on the Home Office website and the UKCISA website.

If you apply from outside the UK or are switching from another eligible visa category other than Tier 4 you may be liable to your job additionally being required to score a minimum number of points.

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility)

Under the Youth Mobility Scheme, nationals of the following countries can apply to come and work in the UK for 2 years:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Hong Kong (SAR)
  • British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Nationals (Overseas)

If you wish to apply the following criteria applies:

  • You cannot switch into this visa category from within the UK. Instead, you need to leave the UK and apply from your home country for entry clearance
  • You must be aged between 18 and 30
  • You must have £1,890 in your personal bank account on the date on which you apply for entry clearance
  • It costs you £208 to apply
  • You can not have previously had a Tier 5 visa under this scheme or have been a “working holiday maker” in the UK
  • You can not apply if you have children living with you or have children who are financially dependant on you
  • You can study, work in most jobs or be self-employed. However, you cannot get public funds, work as a doctor, a dentist in training or a professional sportsperson, and extend your stay or switch into another visa category

Further advice and guidance is provided by the UKCISA. More information on how to apply for this visa is available on the Home Office website.

Post-study work visa   

On 11 September 2019 the UK Government announced the creation of a new immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies.

The Graduate Route will be available to international students who have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance and who have a valid Tier 4 visa at the time of application.

The new route will be launched in the summer of 2021, meaning that any eligible student who graduates in the summer of 2021 or after will be able to apply for the route. This includes students who have already started their programme and therefore includes students starting in the 2020/21 academic year.

The Graduate Route will replace the Doctorate Extension Scheme visa once it comes into effect. 

Further information about the new visa route can be found on the Home Office website