Employment after studies
This page contains some general information about working in the UK and specific information about Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneurs, Tier 1 Entrepreneurs, Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, Tier 2, Tier 5 and the Doctorate Extension Scheme. It also includes information on the risks/restrictions of studying on these types of visa.
When am I allowed to work full-time?
For students who are here on a Tier 4 visa, you need to ensure you continue to adhere to conditions attached to your visa around how many hours you are permitted to work per week. If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student you should only be working up to a maximum of 20 hours per week until the end date that appeared on your CAS. Undergraduates are permitted to work full-time during University vacations only (for postgraduate students, there are no official University vacations). Once the end date on your CAS has passed, you are allowed to work full-time but cannot fill a permanent vacancy.
If you are a PhD student should only work up to 20 hours per week until your degree has been conferred. Once your degree has been conferred you can work full-time.
How do I answer the question on a job application about whether I have immigration permission which allows me to work in the UK?
A lot of job applications ask the question 'Do you have permission to work in the UK?' As a student in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, it is clear that you will need to switch to a different visa category in order to take a permanent full-time position and so you cannot simply answer yes to this question. We would therefore advise that you make direct contact with the employer to inform them you would like to make an application and to explain your immigration status in the UK. You can inform them that you would be eligible to make an application to switch into a work category (i.e. Tier 2) if they were in a position to sponsor you. You are advised to check whether an employer is on the register of Tier 2 or Tier 5 sponsors if you require an employer to sponsor you.
This category is aimed at those applicants who, through their studies, have developed genuine and credible business ideas. This category will enable them to apply to stay in the UK to develop their businesses in the UK.
From 6 April 2013, applications can be made in the UK or overseas. You must be endorsed by the HEI from which you graduated and your degree must have been awarded within the 12 months before you are endorsed under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category. Successful applicants will be granted leave for 12 months initially and will have the option to extend for a further 12 months. It is possible to sponsor dependants provided they meet the Tier 1 maintenance requirements.
If your Tier 4 visa was applied for on or after 13 December 2012, it is possible to be self-employed whilst you are awaiting a decision on your Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur application. You must have submitted your Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur application whilst your Tier 4 visa was still valid to benefit from this. If your Tier 4 visa was applied for before 13 December 2012, you will need to wait until your Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa is issued before you can start working on a self-employed basis.
From 6 April 2013, there will be 2000 places available under this category. 1,000 of these will be for MBA graduates from UK HEI's, 900 will be for graduates of any subject from UK HEIs and 100 places will be for elite global graduate entrepreneurs from overseas identified by UK Trade and Industry.
The University of Warwick is taking part in this scheme and more details about how to apply can be found on the Student Careers and Skills website.
The Policy Guidance for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category can be found on the Home Office website.
UKCISA's website also provides useful and detailed information about this scheme.
This category is aimed at individuals whose intention it is to invest in the UK by setting up or taking over and being actively involved in one or more businesses. To be eligible, you must be able to show evidence that you have access to not less than £200,000; or access to not less than £50,000 from various financial institutions/Government Departments (see the Policy Guidance for further details) and that money must be disposable in the UK.
Leave will be granted for 3 years 4 months if applied for from overseas or 3 years if applied for from the UK. There is a possibility to apply to extend your visa under this category for a further two years if you still meet the requirements.
If you have been in the UK on a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa, the Home Office expect that after 2 years under this category, you will be eligible to switch into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category.
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category is aimed at those who are internationally recognised as world leaders or potential world leading talent in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts who wish to work in the UK. There is a limit of 1000 places in the first year of operation, with 500 places available between 9 August and 30 November and a further 500 places available from 1 December to 31 March 2012. This category will be overseen by the following world-renowned 'competent bodies' which will advise the UK Border Agency on these exceptionally talented migrants to ensure they are the brightest and best in their field:
the Royal Society, a fellowship of the world's most eminent scientists, will be able to nominate up to 300 places;Arts Council England, the national development agency for the arts, will also be able to nominate up to 300 places;the Royal Academy of Engineering, Britain's national academy for engineering, will have up to 200 places to nominate; andthe British Academy, the national academy for the humanities and social sciences will be able to nominate up to 200 places.
The Policy Guidance is available from the Home Office website.
Tier 2 is for skilled workers with a job offer. Tier 2 requires applicants to have been provided with a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) from an employer who is registered on the Tier 2 sponsor register.
Tier 2 requires you to have been awarded your degree before being able to apply (unless you are a PhD student and have completed at least one academic year of your course). You will need to provide evidence to show you meet the points requirement of eligibility under this category (details below). It is important to note that Tier 2 ties you into one job and one employer for the duration of that visas validity. Your employer will act as a sponsor and will therefore have a legal obligation to the Home Office to report on your attendance and compliance under this category.
A Tier 2 visa will be granted for up to 3 years in the first instance, with the possibility of extending to a total of 5 years. After 5 years of being in the UK under Tier 2 (with a minimum salary of £35,000) or Tier 1 General, or a combination of the two, you will eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
There is a special provision under the Tier 2 General category for applicants who are currently here on a Tier 4 visa and who meet the requirements of this category. This will require applicants to meet the normal criteria for Tier 2 (as stated above) but there will be no need for employers to apply the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). Applicants will need to be paid a minimum salary of £20,300 or the minimum set out in the relevant code of practice. There will be no limit to the number of these visas that can be issued.
Applicants who wish to switch into this category of Tier 2 will only be able to sponsor dependants who accompanied them as students and will be unable to sponsor any new dependants. Full information can be found in the Tier 2 (General) Policy Guidance.
What must I have done in order to make an application under Tier 2 (General)?
- Have received an employment offer and a virtual 'Certificate of Sponsorship'
- Show that you meet the English language level required (if you successfully complete a degree in the UK you will automatically meet this requirement)
- Show that you meet the maintenance requirement
- Show that you have gained 50 points for attributes (including your qualification and prospective earnings) and a mandatory 10 points for English language and 10 points for maintenance funds.
It is possible for you to start work in a full-time permanent vacancy if your your Tier 4 visa was applied for on or after 6 April 2012 and you made a Tier 2 application before your Tier 4 visa expired and you will be employed in the role for which the Certificate of Sponsorship has been issued and you have yet to receive a decision on your Tier 2 application.
The Home Office website provides detailed information on this Tier and you should read the Policy Guidance carefully before making an application. Your prospective employer should also be able to provide you with assistance should you require it.
Government Authorised Exchange
Tier 5 may be a useful option for someone wanting to undertake professional training that is not possible to do under Tier 2. A relevant sector body can seek to establish a dedicated scheme within Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange). This Government Authorised Exchange is for applicants coming to the UK through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice through work placements, whilst experiencing the wider social and cultural setting of the UK. This category cannot be used to fill job vacancies or provide a way to bring unskilled labour to the UK.
Leave under this category is granted for a maximum of 2 years. The application must be made overseas and applicants need to be sponsored by a licensed sponsor and must show evidence that they have a level of maintenance funds.
Youth Mobility Scheme
This is aimed at those applicants who are more than 18 years old but less than 30 years old at the time of applying, to enable them to come to the UK to work for 2 years. It is only possible to apply under this scheme from overseas and it is only open to nationals of the following countries:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- BN(O), BOC, BOTC
There is no limit on the number of hours you can spend working under this category. It is also possible to undertake self-funded study on this type of visa.
Full details of Tier 5 can be found in the Tier 5 Policy Guidance.
On 6 April 2013 a new twelve month work scheme was introduced into Tier 4 for students completing a doctorate e.g. PhD, EngD, in the UK. The scheme is intended to act as a bridge into Tier 2 enabling doctoral graduates to have more flexibility with work options after graduation to find a Tier 2 employer or to prepare a business case to switch into Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or Tier 1 Entrepreneur.
In order to be able to apply under this scheme:
- You must not have previously been granted leave under the doctoral extension scheme;
- You must be following a course leading to the award of a PhD;
- You must be sponsored by a sponsor that is a recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution from the Department of Employment and Learning in England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales or the Scottish Funding Council and that sponsor will be the sponsor awarding the PhD; and
- You must be applying within 60 days of the expected end date of a course leading to the award of a PhD
- You must be living in the UK at the point of application
The 'expected end date' is defined as the date your PhD is expected to be formally conferred by the university. It is not possible to apply under this provision once your expected end date has passed. Successful applicants will remain under the sponsorship of the University during the twelve month period. It will be necessary for holders of this visa to remain in touch with the University as we will have monitoring and reporting duties to fulfil for the Home Office.
Further details about this Scheme can be found on our dedicated Doctoral Extension Scheme page.
The visa that you are using in the UK should reflect the main reason you are here. Holding a work related visa means your main reason for being in the UK should be for work NOT study.
If you do study full-time but hold one of these visas, and wish to leave the UK and return whilst you are still studying you may encounter problems leaving the UK and returning as you will not be entering the UK for the same purpose as that for which your immigration permission was granted. If an immigration officer considers that your circumstances have changed or that you are attempting to re-enter the UK for a purpose other than that for which your visa was granted, your immigration permission can be cancelled and you may be required to leave the UK or, if you are a non-visa national, you may be granted leave to enter as a visitor instead.