Post-study work opportunities in the UK
Graduate immigration route
The Graduate route is a new work route for those who have a completed a degree at undergraduate or postgraduate level from an approved UK higher education provider, and have a valid Tier 4 or Student Route visa at the time of application. You will need to have completed the entirety of your course in the UK as a student, apart from permitted study abroad programmes or remote study due to COVID-19, for which specific concessions have been agreed.
Your application does not need sponsorship or any endorsement by an employer or by your university. However, the university will need to report the successful completion of your programme of study to UKVI before you can apply under this route.
The new route opened for applications on 1 July 2021, meaning that any eligible student who graduates after this date will be able to apply for the route. This includes students who have already started their courses.
- The Graduate Route will require a new visa application. You must apply for the Graduate Route visa from inside the UK before your Tier 4/Student visa expires.
- Students who started their course in 2020 by distance learning from their home country because of COVID-19 restrictions, have not yet entered the UK and are due to complete in 2021, will need to make a successful Student Route visa application and arrive on or before 27 September 2021 to be eligible for the graduate route.
- Students currently outside of the UK, studying by distance learning because of COVID-19 restrictions and due to complete in 2021 who have existing permission as a student to study that course and have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to apply for the graduate route as long as they are in the UK before the end of their current Tier 4/Student Route visa.
- Students starting a course in 2021 by distance learning from home because of COVID-19 restrictions who are due to complete in 2022 must make a successful Student Route visa application and arrive in the UK no later than 6 April 2022 to be eligible for the Graduate Route.
- Students on courses due to complete after 2022, will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate route because of any distance learning that took place either in the UK or overseas during the agreed COVID concession period – 24 January 2020 to 6 April 2022.
Undergraduate and taught postgraduate degree students will be able to apply for two years and PhD students for three years after they graduate. The visa will allow graduates to work, or look for work, in any sector and at any level. The visa is not extendable and does not lead to settlement, but graduates will be able to switch into the Skilled Worker route once they have found a suitable job.
EU (and EEA and Swiss) nationals without settled or pre-settled status in the UK can also apply to the Graduate Route in the same way as other international students. You will not need a post-study work visa to remain in the UK if you have settled or pre-settled status
The UK government’s guide for international students provides further information on the Graduate Route.
Skilled Worker route (formerly Tier 2)
The Skilled Worker route is part of the new points-based system of immigration for those who wish to work in the UK. To apply you will need to have an offer of employment from a company with a sponsor licence to do a specific job that meets the minimum levels of skill and salary. You will be able to apply under this route from the UK or from your home country.
If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate student, you can apply when you have completed your degree programme, or up to three months before your expected completion date.
The Start-up route is aimed at people, including those with Tier 4 and Student Route permission, who wish to establish a business in the UK, and who have a business plan endorsed by a Home Office-approved endorsing body. It replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route.