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 but it is not a detailed guide. Use the links to read detailed information on the Home Office website and UKCISA's website.
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.
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.
You can only be granted a Graduate Route visa once, and you cannot apply if you have previously been granted a visa under the now discontinued one year Doctorate Extension Scheme.
For further information, read our frequently asked questions about 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 has been approved as a licensed sponsor and the job meets salary and skill level requirements. The employer needs to give you a ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’ (CoS) and tell you the job’s ‘occupation code’ so that you can apply for the visa.
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.
If you are currently on a student visa there are restrictions on applying from within the UK for a Skilled worker visa ('switching'). You need to meet one of the following requirements:
- you have completed the course named on your CAS (or a course you were allowed to transfer to), or
- your job start date is after your course has finished, or
- you have studied for for at least 24 months of your DPhil
If you were fully funded for your course by a government or international scholarship agency you may need their permission to apply for a Skilled Worker visa.
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.
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
Note that if you applied for the Graduate Route this allows you to run a business in the UK as well as to work, so if you are eligible for Graduate route, this may be a convenient option.
You can apply for the Innovator Founder visa route if you have an idea for a new business to set up and run in the UK that is innovative, viable and scalable. It must either be an idea that you have come up with yourself or to which you have significantly contributed. You need to have your application supported by an endorsing body approved by the Home Office. They will assess your business plan and give you an endorsement letter for your visa application if they decide your business is eligible. You must have a key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business. The route can lead to settlement after three years or you can apply for a further Innovator Founder visa. Your partner or children could apply as your dependants.
The Innovator Founder route started on 13 April 2023, merging and replacing the previous Start-up and Innovator routes. You could still apply for a Start-up visa if you were given an endorsement letter for this before 13 April and apply within 3 months of the date of the endorsement.
You can apply for Innovator Founder visa permission either from your home country or in the UK if you are here with Student visa permission or any other kind of visa except for those listed by the Home Office.
Read the Home Office’s information to find out who the approved endorsing bodies are. For detailed information on how the endorsing bodies would assess your business plan you could read the Home Office’s guidance for the endorsing bodies.
To find out about the eligibility requirements and how to apply, read the Home Office information about the Innovator Founder route.
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 who would like to experience life and work in the UK. The Youth Mobility Scheme is for people under the age of 31 at the date of application from these participating countries, or under 36 if you are from New Zealand, or from Australia or Canada and applying on or after 31 January 2024. 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 also introduced a Young Professionals Scheme for Indian nationals for which applications are by restricted ballot.
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.