Working after studies

Last modified: 20 May 2022

This page is about the options for switching within the UK from a Student visa to a work visa. We also have separate information for those who want to work between the end of their studies and the end of their Student visa: see Work when you are no longer studying. Under many of the work schemes listed, your spouse or civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner and children can apply to stay in the UK with you, or join you here. 

Within the information about each route, we provide you with helpful guidance and links to the relevant Immigration Rules, guidance for applicants and for Home Office caseworkers, and the appropriate application forms. As a further resource, the British Council have combined with Future Learn to provide this helpful MOOC on Preparing for Work in the UK, specifically for international graduates. Also, If you are an international PhD student, there is also an immigration toolkit available to read on the website.

For schemes sponsored by an employer or endorsed by your university or another body, the sponsor or endorsing body itself is normally the best source of advice. Some law centres, and other advice centres have immigration specialists who will provide some basic advice free of charge. Some private solicitors also specialise in immigration law, although they will charge you a fee for their advice. We have further information on seeking advice here.

Graduate route

Last modified: 14 April 2022

The Graduate route is for those who have a degree or other relevant qualification from an approved UK Higher Education provider. Applications opened on 1 July 2021.

For further detail on the route, see our dedicated Graduate route page.

Skilled worker route

Last modified: 14 April 2022

In order to apply under the Skilled Worker route you need sponsorship by a licensed employer to do a specific job that meets minimum levels of skill and salary. This overview of the route is specifically tailored to those who have studied in the UK with a Tier 4 or Student route visa and who now wish to apply under the Skilled Worker route, either in the UK or in their home country.

Most people who apply in the UK to switch from Tier 4, Student route or Graduate route permission to the Skilled Worker route, and many former UK students who apply later in their home country, are considered a "new entrant" under the Skilled Worker rules about "tradable points". This means they can meet a lower minimum salary than other applicants. (This guide does not cover the other ways non-student applicants can gain "tradable points" but you can read the full details in the Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Worker, paragraph 4.2)

We cover the basics about eligible employers, jobs and salaries, but for the fine detail of whether your specific job, salary and situation make you eligible for sponsorship as a Skilled Worker, you will need to discuss it directly with your employer, usually the Human Resources department. The Skilled Worker route is new, having launched on 1 December 2020, so you may find that employers take some time to understand all aspects, especially the key differences from the old Tier 2 route that it has replaced. We explain these difference below.

The Home Office has a full guide to the Skilled Worker route for all types of applicant, including students and former students. There are also separate routes for some specialised areas of skilled work: see the Home Office guides to the Health and Care Worker visa, Intra-company visas, Minister of Religion visa and Sportsperson visa.

The international student adviser at your university or college specialises in student immigration applications and is probably unable to offer one-to-one advice on work-based immigration applications, but they may be able to refer you to someone who can.

Job-hunting in a pandemic


Employers and vacancies

Eligible jobs and salaries, "new entrants"

ATAS security clearance

Maintenance, English language skills

Studies sponsored by a government or scholarship agency

Travelling and re-entering the UK

Starting work

Family, settlement

Immigration Skills Charge (ISC)

Criminal record certificate 


Start-up and Innovator

Last modified: 14 April 2022

The Start-up route is aimed at people, including those with Tier 4, Student and Graduate route permission, who wish to establish a business in the UK, and who have a business plan endorsed by a Home Office-approved endorsing body. It replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route. 

The Start-up route has a broader remit than the old Graduate Entrepreneur scheme. Our information here is aimed at those with Tier 4, Student or Graduate route permission who wish to switch into the Start-up route, and those switching in from the Graduate Entrepreneur scheme. You can also apply if you have Tier 2 or Skilled worker permission  or if you are in the UK as a visitor undertaking permitted prospective entrepreneur activities.

The full rules and eligibility for this route are contained in Immigration Rules Appendix Start-up. The Home Office website has a guide to applying for the Start-up route and they have published guidance for Home Office staff assessing applications

The separate Innovator route replaced the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur route and is aimed at experienced businesspeople seeking to establish an innovative business in the UK. You cannot switch from Tier 4 or Student permission straight to the Innovator scheme within the UK, but you can switch if you hold leave as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur. Applicants must meet investment fund criteria, require endorsement from an independent endorsing body and must  meet other eligibility requirements which are contained in full in Immigration Rules Appendix Innovator. For details of the Innovator scheme, see the guide to the Innovator scheme on the Home Office website.

The below information is specific for the Start-up route.

Endorsing body, business plan

Qualification, knowledge of English

Switching from Tier 4 or Student route

Switching from the Graduate route

Switching from Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or Doctorate Extension Scheme


Running your business, and other work 

Contact with endorsing body


Extending your stay

Students' union sabbatical officers

Last modified: 20 May 2022

You can stay in the UK under the Student route if you have been elected to a full-time post as a students' union sabbatical officer at an education establishment where you are registered as a student. The Student route also covers you if you are elected to a post with the National Union of Students.

You will need to meet the requirements for a Student route application. However, the Home Office does not expect you to study during this period. The Home Office should give you permission to be in the UK for 12 months which you can apply to extend up to a two year maximum if you are re-elected.

You can find detailed information for you, the students' union where you are going to work as a sabbatical officer and your Student sponsor in Student union sabbatical officers.

For the logistics of switching to the Graduate route before, during or after working as a students' union sabbatical offer, see our detailed guide to the Graduate route above.

Teacher training

Last modified: 20 May 2022

The UK government's Department for Education has a dedicated and detailed "Get into Teaching" website about teacher training in England. The information in this section is taken from that website. 

For information about teacher training in other parts of the UK, see these websites:

In England there are two separate training routes:

  • non-salaried route where you study at a specific college or university for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), or
  • salaried route where you work at a school, called School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT).

The "Get into Teaching" website has detailed guidance on both routes, and on visas, tuition fees and funding. We do not offer individual advice about the Get Into Teaching programme, but the following guidance is based on their website, with some commentary.

Immigration and visas

Tuition fees, funding, bursaries, and scholarships

Lawyers, architects

Last modified: 20 May 2022

If you are eligible for the Youth Mobility Scheme visa (T5) or UK ancestry scheme you can apply for that scheme in your home country then come back to the UK and work. Someone who is in the UK as a dependant can also work. These types of work visa have very few restrictions on the work you can do. You can work as a lawyer or an architect.



Doctors, dentists, optometrists, pharmacists

Last modified: 20 May 2022

Doctors and dentists



Other options

Last modified: 09 May 2022

There are other less common work route options, usually limited to people in quite specific situations. Current and former students may be eligible. We have included links to detailed information about these routes on the Home Office website.

Other work routes that can be applied for in the UK:

High Potential Individual (opening 30 May 2022)

Scale-up Worker (opening 22 August 2022)

Global Business Mobility routes

Temporary Worker - government authorised exchange

Global Talent 

British National (Overseas) visa


All other options must normally be applied for outside of the UK, in your home country. There is no provision to apply in the UK, including under COVID-19 concessions. The guidance COVID-19: advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents specifically says that while some applications can be made in the UK which must normally be made overseas, "[you] will not be able to apply for a route for which there is no provision in the Immigration Rules for making an in-country application".

Other work routes that must usually be applied for from overseas:


Temporary Worker - other routes

Youth Mobility Scheme

UK Ancestry


  • Exceptional talent:  those who are internationally recognised or likely to become world leaders in arts and culture, humanities and social sciences, natural sciences and medical science research, engineering or digital technology. Applicants must be endorsed by a designated body. Research Councils UK can work with the designated bodies to help you apply under this scheme if you are receiving a relevant Research Council fellowship.

Closed routes

Last modified: 14 April 2022

The routes listed below have now closed to new applicants. The information provided is for individuals that still hold valid leave under these routes, or who have an outstanding application under these routes. 

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur (closed 6 July 2019)


Contact with endorsing body

Extending your stay, settlement



Doctorate Extension Scheme (closed 1 July 2021)



Working, contact with sponsor

Contact with your sponsor

Options afterwards, settlement