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, the Doctorate Extension Scheme and the Foundation Programme for Medical Students. 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.
I have completed my studies. Is it ok if I leave the UK then return before my visa expires to switch into a different immigration category?
If you leave the UK once your course end date has passed, it is highly likely that you will be refused entry to the UK should you attempt to re-enter on your current visa.
This is because your Tier 4 visa was issued for study. As your course of study is now complete, study is no longer the main purpose for your stay in the UK. Therefore there is a strong possibility that you will not be permitted to return to the UK once your course end date has passed.
Please bear this in mind when thinking about leaving the UK after your studies, as some working visa categories require applications to be made from within the UK, and some categories offer concessions for those applicants who are making their visa application from within the UK.
Even though you may have existing leave on your visa, once you exit the UK after your course end date has passed, you should not attempt to re-enter on that visa.
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 2014, there are be 2000 places available under this category. 1,900 of these will be for graduates of any subject, known as "General Endorsements" and 100 places for elite global graduate entrepreneurs from overseas identified by UK Trade and Industry, known as "Global Endorsements".
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.
We have also created a sample application form for applications made in the UK which provides useful hints on how to answer some of the questions and information on the documents you will need to include with your application.
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.
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.
Graduates of UK medicine degree courses, who are sponsored under Tier 4, and who need to undertake a Foundation Programme in order to qualify can apply to be sponsored by the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO). This enables the medical student to move from one placement to the next without needing to apply for new permission each time.
The UKFPO can assign confirmations of acceptance for studies (CASs) if students have completed a recognised UK degree in medicine which is awarded by an institution with a Tier 4 (General) sponsor licence such as the University of Warwick. The UKFPO start assigning CAS towards the end of May before students receive their results. It is very important that students do not apply before they have evidence of successfully completing their degree as this is one of the mandatory conditions for transferring to UKFPO sponsorship. Low risk nationals who are not required to submit documentary evidence of their UK medical degree are advised to be wary of applying too early.
For timescales, key dates and requirements please refer to the UKFPO website: http://www.foundationprogramme.nhs.uk/pages/home/Tier-4-Visas. Although they encourage using the CAS as soon as possible after it is issued applicants need to bear in mind the above advice on when a successful application can be made. In most cases students will be able to start the Foundation Programme whilst their application is in progress, however, there are some exceptions to this which are dependent upon when the current student visa was issued (please refer to the table on the summary page of the UKFPO website). For these few exceptions the Tier 4 visa must have been granted prior to the first day of the course and in order to ensure that this is the case, applicants may wish to use the faster premium service rather than the postal route. The UKFPO provides detailed information on making the application on its website (please refer to the FAQs) but they are unable to offer individual immigration advice.
With regard to the work permissions granted the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP card) should state ‘Work 20 hrs max in term-time’. For Tier 4 purposes the Foundation Programme itself is the course of study and must be undertaken on a full-time basis. It is possible to take on appropriate further employment (locum F1/F2 at the same level) of up to 20 hours per week during term-time. Other part-time work unrelated to the Foundation Programme cannot be undertaken. As the sponsoring body the UKFPO has a duty to monitor engagement with the programme and report certain activities to the Home Office. You therefore need to be aware of your responsibilities with regard to providing requisite information and documents to your employer/UKFPO. Please refer to the UKFPO’s FAQs for full details: http://www.foundationprogramme.nhs.uk/pages/home/Tier-4-Visas
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.