Working after your studies

If you wish to remain in the UK beyond that period, then you will need to apply for visa permission to do so. 

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

Start-up visa

The Start-up route will close to new applicants on 13 April 2023. Initial applications will only be accepted where they are supported by endorsements issued before 13 April 2023 and the application is made by 12 July 2023. The route will close to all new applicants on 13 July 2023. The Start Up visa route was designed for people wishing to start an innovative business in the UK. It was seen as a helpful stepping stone to the main visa route for people wishing to establish a business in the UK, the Innovator route. The advantages of the Start Up route were the absence of the requirement to hold investment funds and the availability of endorsements from higher education providers, making it an attractive route for international students. The Graduate route can be used by international students to get their business off the ground, and the new Innovator Founder route offers a visa without the need to hold investment funds. 


The Innovator Founder visa is for people who have business experience and are seeking to establish a business in the UK.

With an Innovator Founder visa you can:

  • stay in the UK for 3 years, after which you can apply to extend your stay for a further 3 years or apply to settle permanently in the UK
  • bring your family with you to the UK
  • set up a business or several businesses
  • work for your business
  • do work outside your business, as long as it’s ‘skilled work’

To apply for an Innovator Founder visa (and for an extension or settlement) you’ll need to be endorsed by an official endorsing body.

Find out more about the Innovator Founder visa on the GOV.UK website or attend one of UCL's information sessions.

Skilled Worker Visa

In order to qualify for the Skilled Worker Visa, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • You must have a job offer from an employer who holds a sponsors licence
  • Your job must be in one of these eligible roles.
  • You usually need to be paid at least £26,200 (though this can be higher depending on the job) based on a 37.5 hour week
  • There are different salary rules if you work in some healthcare or education jobs, where the going rate is based on national pay scales
  • If you do not meet the usual salary requirements, and you do not work in healthcare or education, you might still be eligible if you can be paid between 70% and 90% of the usual going rate for your job, if your salary is at least £20,800 per year and you meet one of the following criteria:
    • your job is in a shortage occupation
    • you’re under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training
    • you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that’s relevant to your job (if you have a relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject your salary must be at least £23,580)
    • you have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education
  • 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

    Student Visa holders can no longer switch into a work route before their studies are complete. PHD students can switch after 24 months.  You can find more information about this visa type on the Home Office website and the UKCISA website.


    Tier 5 (Youth Mobility)

    Under the Youth Mobility Scheme, nationals of the following countries can apply to come and work in the UK for 2/3 years:

    • Australia (3 years from Jan 2024)
    • Canada
    • Japan
    • Monaco
    • South Korea
    • New Zealand (3 years)
    • Republic of Korea
    • Taiwan
    • Hong Kong (SAR)
    • San Marino
    • Andorra
    • Iceland
    • Uruguay
    • British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Nationals (Overseas)

    There’s a different scheme for Indian nationals. Check if you’re eligible for the India Young Professionals Scheme visa.

    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 (or upto 35 for New Zeland, Vanadian, South Korean and Australian nationals)
    • You must have £2,530 in your personal bank account for at least 28 days in a row. Day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for this visa.
    • It costs you £259 to apply
    • You cannot have previously had a Tier 5 visa under this scheme or have been a “working holiday maker” in the UK
    • You cannot apply if you have children living with you or have children who are financially dependent 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.

    Graduate Route  

    The Graduate Route is 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/ Student visa at the time of application.

    In order to meet the requirements of the Graduate route students will need to:

    • have successfully completed an eligible course at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance;

    • have existing permission for that course as a Student at the point of application; and

    • make their application in the UK

    • They must not have previously held permission on the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES)

    • You must have held had a Student/Tier 4 Visa for at least 12 months if studying a course longer than 12 months or for the full duration of your course if the course is 12 months or less (please see exceptions on our Graduate Route page)

    • If, in the last 12 months before the date of your application, you have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship by a Government or international scholarship agency covering both fees and living costs for study in the UK, you must provide written consent to the application from that Government or agency.

    Can my family members apply with me?

    Dependant family members will be permitted on the Graduate route, provided those family members are in the UK and had last been granted permission as dependants of the main applicant on the Student route. New dependants will not be permitted, except where a dependent child was born in the UK during a period of Student or Graduate permission.


    The Graduate route will require a new visa application, which will only be possible from inside the UK. It will include the payment of a visa fee of £715 and the Immigration Health Surcharge at the full rate of £776 per year. Students will also need to know the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) they used for their most recent Student (or Tier 4) application in order to apply for the Graduate route.

    The Graduate Route application form has been designed to be straightforward and simple. You can find further information on how to apply using the IDV app and what kind of status you will recieve once your application is approved at pages 4 - 6 of this guidance document

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