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Working in the UK after your studies

International students graduating from a UK university can apply to stay in the UK to work once they have finished their studies. With central London just 30 minutes away by train, you are within easy reach of a wide range of opportunities.

Non-EU students

Your eligibility to work in the UK after you complete your studies will depend on whether you meet the requirements for any of the schemes that the Government operates.

There are a number of schemes open to international students from outside the European Economic Area. These include:

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)                                     

New Start-up route

On 6 July 2019 this route will close. Students interested in applying for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route either from within the UK or from overseas must be endorsed by a Higher Education Institution or the Department of International Trade by 5 April 2019 and submit a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa application by 5 July 2019.

This route is for non-European graduates who do not have a job offer from an employer but instead have a genuine and credible business idea or entrepreneurial skills to establish one or more businesses in the UK. This route has been extended to allow post-doctoral researchers on a Tier 2 visa currently employed by Kingston University to apply.

Successful applicants will be granted leave for 12 months initially. There may be the possibility to switch into the new Start-up category for another 12 months.

You must have £945 (£1,890 if applying from outside the UK) in savings to prove that you can support yourself and you must have held this in your personal bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply for any of these routes. 

Visa application fees to apply/switch in the UK:  £493 (8 weeks) £993 (Priority 10 day) £1,293 Super Priority (24 hrs)

Health charge £400.00 a year.

Visa application fee to apply from overseas: £363.

Kingston University has been allocated 23 General Endorsements for the new Start-up route to be allocated from 6 April 2019 to 5 April 2020.

All applicants must join the Kingston University Bright Ideas to start-up programme.

Register for the programme.

For further information please contact Dwain Reid.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) is being expanded into a new Start-up category, which is for people looking to set up a business in the UK. The new start-up category will be open to applicants on 6 April 2019. 

  • Applicants do need to be graduates and do not require any initial funding.
  • Business ideas must be innovative, viable and scalable.
  • Satisfy the English language requirement, to Level B2.
  • Applicants must be endorsed by a recognised body.
  • Successful applicants will be granted two years' leave.
  • Successful achievements in the start-up category will enable applicants to switch into the innovator route.
  • The £50,000 investment required for the innovator route will be waived.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa

 New Innovator route

This route closed on 29 March 2019 and is replaced by the Innovator route, which will be open to applicants on 6 April 2019.

You can apply for an Innovator visa if:

  • you are endorsed by a relevant business sponsor;
  • you have £50,000 to invest in your business from any legitimate source;
  • this investment is waived if the applicant is switching from the Start-Up visa; and
  • satisfy the English language requirement, to Level B2;

Further information is available on the UKVI website for all routes:

Tier 1 graduate entrepreneur visa

Start up visa

Innovator visa

For further information and assistance with your Tier 1 (GE) or Start-up visa application please contact Barbara Georgopoulos referring to Tier 1 (GE) in the subject field and including your full name, nationality and KU ID number in the body of the email.

Tier 2 visa (General)

This is the route to apply under if you are looking to be sponsored to work in the UK. View more information on applying from overseas:

Students /recent graduates can apply to switch from within the UK studying a bachelors or masters degree, Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or Professional Diploma in Education (PGDE), from a UK recognised or listed institution. The scheme is also open to students who have completed a minimum of 12 months of a PhD programme.

For more information read the Tier 2 (General) Policy Guidance.

Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES)

This is a new scheme in force from 6 April 2013. It is designed to give students who have almost finished their UK PhD or other doctorate qualification an additional 12 months of Tier 4 (General) immigration permission in which to look for and start work in the UK.

Information about this scheme is available in the Tier 4 policy guidance.

The University or college where you are studying for your doctorate must be a Tier 4 sponsor. It must also be a recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution. If in doubt, ask your college or university if it meets this requirement.

If you are studying for a doctorate and have almost completed your studies then his scheme will allow you to work in the UK for up to one year after you have completed your studies. You must apply to switch into DES from your Tier 4 visa within the UK before you have completed your course, and within 60 days of the course completion date.

Tier 5 work options

There are a number of different types of Tier 5 schemes. These include:

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility):

If you are a national of one of the following countries you may be eligible to apply for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa: Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Taiwan.

You can also apply if you're 18 to 30 and a:

To apply under Tier 5 (Youth Mobility), you must be aged between 18 and 30, and you must have £1,890 in your personal bank account on the date on which you apply for entry clearance.

You cannot switch into this immigration category from within the UK. Instead, you need to leave the UK and apply for entry clearance.

Temporary Worker - Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange Scheme (GAE):

The Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange route is for those coming to the UK through approved schemes as a paid intern. The aim is to share knowledge, experience and best practice through work placements, whilst experiencing the wider social and cultural setting of the UK. A list of the companies who can offer Tier 5 visas can be found at Home Office list of Authorised Exchange Schemes.

Some examples of companies on the list are:

To apply for the schemes you must be able to show that you have held funds of £945 in an account that is acceptable to the Home Office for a period of 90 consecutive days.

You can make an application to switch to Tier 5 (GAE) in the UK on completion of your studies providing you meet all the following requirements:

  • you have student leave (Tier 4 (General) leave or leave under one of the student-related categories that preceded the introduction of Tier 4;
  • you have obtained a UK recognised degree during your most recent grant of leave;
  • you are being sponsored under Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) either to undertake a period of postgraduate professional training or work experience which is required to obtain a professional qualification or professional registration in the same field as your UK qualification or you are being sponsored for up to 12 months to undertake an internship which directly relates to your UK qualification; and
  • your employer does not intend to employ you in the UK once your training or work experience for which you are being sponsored has ended.

For further details about working after your studies and these schemes check the information on the UKCISA website.

For further information regarding any of the work routes above please contact the Student Life Advisor (Immigration) Barbara Georgopoulos at

Contact us

Student Life Centre: Immigration Advisor
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 7313

International students
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