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 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.

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.

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

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 caseworker guidance.

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 liaise with the Staff Immigration team and they can advise you on your application and 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, before proceeding to the visa application. The Home Office website explains the process. If you are going to be working for an Oxford university department, the departmental HR team will advise you on a Global Talent application if appropriate. 

If you want to develop a business in the UK

Note that having visa permission under the Graduate Route 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.

Innovator Founder

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 can apply for Innovator Founder visa permission either from your home country or in the UK if you are here with Student visa permission and have either completed your course or 24 months of a DPhil, 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. 

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 Andorra, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, Iceland, India, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Taiwan and Uruguay 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, or under 36 for nationals of Australia, Canada, New Zealand or Republic of Korea. For some nationalities there are specific requirements to be met and visas are issued under a quota system. 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.

Youth Mobility must be applied for from outside the UK, from the applicants country of nationality or where they have permission to live for more than six months. It is granted for 2 years; Australian, Canadian and New Zealand nationals can apply to extend it for a further one year. Work and study are permitted. 

High Potential Individual: You can apply for this visa if you have a degree awarded by a listed eligible non-UK university in the last 5 years. The visa is for 2 years, or 3 years for a PhD. You can use it to work or be self-employed. Partners and children can apply as dependants. It is possible to apply either outside the UK or switch to this visa in the UK after your UK course completion or 24 months on a DPhil. You can only apply for HPI once, and you can't apply if you've previously had a Graduate route visa or a Doctorate Extension Scheme visa. It cannot be extended but you may be able to switch to other visa types. You cannot use the visa for study except on a course that would not be eligible for a student visa. Read UKVI's information on the HPI visa.

UK ancestry: This is mainly applicable to people who are Commonwealth citizens 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. Family members might also be able to apply, and you might be able to apply if you are the child of a BN(O). Go to the Home Office webpage for full information.

Was this page useful?*