Working after studies

If you are interested in staying in the UK to work or develop a business after your course you will need to apply for the right type of visa permission to do so. This page gives an overview of some of the options available.

If you have completed your studies and  your Student/Tier 4 visa is still valid, you are allowed to work full-time on it until it expires. We explain your work permission during this period on our page about working during your studies.

For information on helping guests to get their visas for your degree ceremony, see visitors.

For updates and information about the coronavirus (Covid-19) including visa implications e.g. studying remotely, travel restrictions, visa expiration see the University's webpage.
The UKCISA website also has useful information and the latest Home Office updates.

Graduate Route

The Graduate Route which first opened for applications on 1 July 2021, is an opportunity to apply for a visa to remain in the UK to work, look for work, be self employed or engage in business. Permission is granted for two years if you have completed an undergraduate degree, PGCE or masters degree, or three years if you have completed a DPhil. You do not need a job offer and you do not need to be sponsored by the University or an employer.  

You will only become eligible to apply once you have successfully completed your qualification, meaning you have your official result or Leave to Supplicate for a DPhil, and we have reported this to the Home Office. If you apply before this, your application is likely to be refused without warning and you will lose the application fee and you may not be able to apply again. Completion reports are submitted every week to the Home Office and you will receive an email on the Friday of the week that you received your results/Leave to Supplicate. Do not apply before you have received this email confirmation. 

You must still have a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time you apply, so if you think you will not get your final results before your visa expires, contact us for advice. You can only apply from within the UK, so if you are completing in your home country you will need to travel back to the UK to submit your application before your visa expires.

For further information, read our frequently asked questions about the Graduate Route. This Government document (page 15) explains how absences due to the Coronavirus pandemic might affect eligibility. 

The UK Council for International Student Affairs also has detailed information on the Graduate route, or see the Home Office website and the Graduate Route policy guidance.

The Doctorate Extension Scheme - for DPhil students approaching completion

This scheme closed for applications on 1 July 2021.  

The Doctorate Extension Scheme could be applied for by students who were close to finishing their DPhil. Applicants needed a CAS from Oxford.

DES visas were granted for 12 months from the expected completion date on the CAS. DES visa holders can seek and take work in the UK without needing a job offer in advance or for an employer to sponsor a visa. Self employment and engaging in business is also allowed.

If you currently hold a DES visa, you can use the year for work experience or, if you find qualifying work with a licensed employer, you may be able to progress to the Skilled Worker route (formerly Tier 2). If you are setting up a business you may be able to go on to apply under the start-up and innovator visa categories. During the year you will need to keep in contact with the University as your sponsor for the scheme.

If you have been granted a DES visa you cannot apply for the Graduate Route.

Skilled worker visa - if you have a job offer

You could apply for a Skilled Worker visa if you have been offered a job by an employer who is a licensed sponsor and the job meets salary and skill level requirements. The employer needs to give you a ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’ and tell you the job’s ‘occupation code’ so that you can apply for the visa. If you are applying for your visa when you have completed your degree or are within 3 months of completing it or, if you are a DPhil student, you have completed at least 12 months’ study, you will be a ‘new entrant’ which means that the salary threshold the job needs to meet could be lower.

A skilled worker visa is permission to work only in the job that the employer sponsored you for. If you change job you would need to be sponsored for the new job and apply for a new Skilled Worker visa. After five years in this route, you may be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK. Your partner and children can apply as your dependants.

You can normally apply for a skilled worker visa from within the UK if you are here with any visa except for a visitor visa or visitor permission, or in your home country.  For detailed information on the Skilled Worker route including how to apply, read the Home Office guide. UKCISA’s information on the Skilled Worker route is helpful and is written for international students.

If you are going to be employed by the University of Oxford, your HR contact in the department will deal with the Staff Immigration team and they can answer any queries you may have.

Global Talent

This route is for leaders or potential leaders in the fields of academia or research, arts and culture and digital technology. You need to be endorsed for this visa, or to have won a listed award. The Home Office website explains the process.

If you want to develop a business in the UK

The Graduate Route (information above) allows visa holders to engage in business activity in the UK as well as work, so if you have completed a degree in the UK and can apply before your Student or Tier 4 visa expires, this may be the most convenient option.

Start-up visa: for applicants to stay in the UK for up to two years to set-up a business. You will need to be endorsed by an authorised body which currently includes the University of Oxford. For information, contact the Careers Service to find out about the interview process where you will be asked to present your business plan. For further information about the requirements, see the Careers website above and the Home Office guidance.

For information about other endorsing bodies, see the Home Office list.

If you currently hold a Start-up visa and the development of your business has been disrupted by the pandemic, you can apply for an additional year in this category. You will need to contact us for a new endorsement letter for this purpose, and you must apply by 30 September 2022. 

Innovator visa: for more experienced applicants proposing to set-up or actively run a business in the UK, you will need £50,000 investment funding if it is a new business. You do not need any evidence of investment funding if your business is already established and you have been endorsed for an earlier visa. You will need to be endorsed by an authorising body as explained on the Home Office website.

Investors: these visas are available to applicants with £2million to invest in the UK. 

Information on other routes for working in the UK

Youth Mobility Scheme: is available to nationals of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Taiwan or South Korea. The Youth Mobility Scheme is for people under the age of 31 at the date of application from these participating countries who would like to experience life and work in the UK. There are specific requirements to be met, visas are issued under a quota system and you have to apply from your home country. You can also apply if you are a British Overseas citizen, a British Overseas Territories citizen or a British National Overseas citizen (there is no limit on these visas). The Home Office has announced it will introduce a Young Professionals Scheme for Indian nationals but have not yet published details or a date for the scheme to open.

UK ancestry: If you are a Commonwealth citizen with a grandparent born in the UK, you may be able to apply from outside the UK for a visa to come to the UK for five years to look for a job and work, on the basis of UK ancestry.

Temporary Worker: If you are already in the UK, it is now possible to remain here to undertake an internship directly related to the studies you have taken during your time in the UK, for up to 12 months under the Temporary Worker (Government Authorised Exchange) scheme.

If you hold a visa as a Dependant: Dependants are allowed to work in the UK almost without restriction. For example, if you hold a visa as the Dependant of another student, you can work full time, be self employed or engage in business. A person with leave as the dependant partner of a Student cannot take employment as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach).

British National (Overseas) visa: If you are from Hong Kong and are a British national (overseas) you could apply for a BN(O) visa, allowing you to live, work and study in the UK. Go to the Home Office webpage for full information.

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