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

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 an 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.

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 £25,600 (though this can be higher depending on the job)
  • 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 £20,480 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 £23,040)
    • 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

    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 years:

    • Australia
    • Canada
    • Japan
    • Monaco
    • New Zealand
    • Republic of Korea
    • Taiwan
    • Hong Kong (SAR)
    • San Marino
    • 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 £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 £244 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)

    When do I have to return to the UK to apply for the Graduate Route?

    • Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 via distance learning, and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course will be able to make a Graduate application if they make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK on or before 21 June 2021 to complete their course.

    • Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2021 via distance learning and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course will be able to make a Graduate application if they make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK on or before 27 September 2021 to complete their course.

    • Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 who have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and who have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to make a Graduate application as long as they are present in the UK before the end date of their course.

    • If your course started at any time before September 2020 and is more than 12 months in duration, then any time that you spend outside the UK distance learning between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 will not prevent you meeting the Graduate route eligibility requirements.  In these circumstances, you must return to the UK and apply for the Graduate route before your Student visa/Tier 4 visa expires. 

    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 £700 and the Immigration Health Surcharge at the full rate of £624 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