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Working in the UK after your studies

Here's what you need to know if you're planning to work in the UK after you graduate

If you want to work in the UK after you graduate, it's important you research your options and check the regulations of the different types of visa.

Your main options are:

Graduate Immigration Route 'Post-Study Work visa'

The Graduate Immigration Route (GIR) launched on 1 July 2021. This route is a new post study graduate visa. The visa is for 2 years for Undergraduate and Masters students. If you are studying a PhD level course this visa is for 3 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • In order to apply you must have already successfully completed your course
  • You can only apply in the UK
  • You will need to hold a valid, unexpired, Tier 4 or Student Route visa and study for the full period of your course in the UK if you have studied on a course of 12 months or less
  • If you are on a course of 12 months or more you would need to spend a minimum of 12 months in the UK studying on a valid Student Route visa
  • The University will need to notify the Home Office (UKVI) that you have been awarded your qualification before you apply for the Graduate Immigration Route (GIR) visa

  • The University will confirm successful course completions to UKVI
  • After UKVI have been informed you will receive an email confirming your most recent CAS number and that UKVI have been informed of your successful course completion
  • You can find the application form on the UKVI website.

  • The cost is £700 for the standard visa application for both students and dependants
  • The application fee will be automatically reduced by £55 if you’re a citizen of an eligible country, these include European countries and Turkey – this applies to applicants only and not your dependants
  • You will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of the visa application, this will cost £624 per year - 2 years will cost £1,248 and 3 years will cost £1,872 for each applicant and each dependant

  • You will not be required to show proof of living costs as part of the application

  • You can be employed or self-employed under this visa. If you wish to be self-employed you cannot start this until your GIR visa has been successfully granted

  • If your tuition fees and living costs have been paid by a government or an international scholarship agency within the 12 month period before you apply, you must provide a letter showing the Official Financial Sponsor's consent to apply for a Graduate Immigration Route visa

If you are applying in 2021 and you do not meet the study in the UK requirement (relevant period) because you have been learning outside the UK due to Coronavirus, you may still be eligible to apply. Your deadline for entering or returning to the UK after blended learning depends on when your course started and how long it was. 


If you began a course of 12 months or less, for example a one-year Masters course, in 2020 by blended and connected study and have not previously entered the UK to study that course you will be able to make a GIR application if you make a successful Student Route visa application and arrive in the UK before your visa ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner.

If you began a course of 12 months or less, for example a one-year Masters course, in 2021 by blended and connected study and have not previously entered the UK to study that course you will be able to make a GIR application if you make a successful Student Route visa application and arrive in the UK before your visa ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner.

If you start a course of 12 months or less in Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022 via blended learning from overseas you must enter the UK no later than 6 April 2022 and complete that course of study in the UK with a Student Route visa to be eligible for the Graduate Immigration Route. Students should travel once they are able to do so.

If you began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 and have already travelled to the UK on your current student visa you will be able to make a GIR application as long as you are in the UK before the end date of your visa

If you are studying a course lasting longer than 12 months you will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate Immigration Route as a result of any blended learning that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 or any blended learning which took place overseas between 27 September 2021 and 6 April 2022. If your current visa expires before 6 April 2022 you must enter the UK before the expiry of your Student permission rather than 6 April 2022.

If you have switched into the Tier 4 or Student Route from another visa route and have not held a Tier 4 or Student Route visa for the required period you will not be able apply for this route

Yes, you can apply if you have valid Exceptional Assurance leave having held a valid Tier 4 or Student Route visa.

Supplementary study is allowed but only study that could not be sponsored under the Student Route visa. This means that you could, for example, study on recreational courses, online courses or some professional courses

Only dependants who are already in the UK as your Tier 4/Student Route dependant can apply as your Graduate Immigration Route dependant. New dependants will not be able to apply apart from a dependant child born in the UK during Tier 4/Student permission.

Children born in the UK during your Graduate Immigration Route permission can also apply as your dependant.

Each dependant will need to complete a separate application form when you apply for the Graduate Immigration Route.

There is a separate form for your partner and dependant children.

They will need your GIR visa application reference number. This number is called a Unique Application Number (UAN). You can find it on emails and letters from the Home Office about your GIR application.

If you do not successfully complete your course within the original course dates you may not be able to apply for GIR.

The International Student Advice team will not be providing an application checking service for GIR applications.

You can find further information about the Graduate Immigration Route on the UKVI website and the UKCISA website.

If you have any questions or queries please contact the International Student Advice team

The Careers and Employability Service can help you with your career plans, jobsearch and applications.

  • Get Information on career planning, including resources on CVs, interviews, psychometric tests and information to support global jobsearch
  • Use our MyCareer portal to access graduate jobs, volunteering, see our events and book appointments
  • Attend events throughout the year, including employer events and 30 minute guides to all aspects of career planning, including CVs, interviews and using Linkedin
  • Book a one-to-one appointment for advice on your options, jobsearch techniques, CVs, interviews or any other careers query by emailing, or booking a short appointment at MyCareer
  • Get help with your entrepreneurial ideas from our Student StartUp Team. Get useful information or book to attend an Enterprise Clinic by emailing

If you are looking for ideas to gain experience over the summer then you may want to explore Bright Network’s Internship Experience UK programme that provides virtual internships this summer with big employers across a range of sectors. You can find out more information and apply here.

The Careers and Employability Service is open throughout the summer and can help you for 5 years after you finish your course.

Skilled Worker route

This route replaced Tier 2 (General) Work Permit on 1 December 2020.

You must be sponsored by an employer on the Skilled Worker register of licensed sponsors.

The job and vacancy must be genuine.

The job must have a particular skill level.

Most people who apply in the UK to switch from a Tier 4 or Student Route visa to the Skilled Worker route will be considered a ‘new entrant’ and need to meet the lower minimum salary ‘70% of going rate’.

The 70% salary figure will vary depending on the specific job. You need to meet the relevant minimum salary or £20,480, whichever is higher.

Holders of Student permission will qualify for the lower 'new entrant' wage for up to two years after their Student visa expires.

Holders of the Graduate Immigration Route will also qualify for the ‘new entrant’ wage for up to 2 years after this visa expires.

Further information can be found on the UKCISA website.

Youth Mobility Scheme (T5) visa

You can apply for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa if you're a citizen of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, San Marino or Taiwan. This visa is also open to British citizens overseas, British Overseas Territories Citizens and British National (overseas).

You need to be aged 18–30 and have £2,530 in savings. You also need to meet other eligibility requirements

Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5) visa

If you want to undertake a period of professional training or work experience, you can apply for this scheme. Your initial leave is granted for 12 months, but you can extend this to 24 months. However, you're not allowed to take a permanent job.

You must show that you have £1,270 or more in your bank account for 28 days at the time of the application and you need a certificate of sponsorship reference number from a UK sponsor.

Start-up visa

If you're currently on a Tier 4 or Student visa and you have a viable, genuine and credible business idea that you want to put into practice in the UK, you could apply for a Start-up visa.

You need to currently hold a Tier 4 or Student visa and begin the application process at least 3 months before your Student visa expires.

As we are one of the endorsing institutions for this visa, you need to be a student or graduate of the University of Portsmouth and you need to be part of our Route to Startup or Social Startupdevelopment programmes. You also need to provide evidence that you meet the maintenance fund requirements.

Find out more by emailing or check the UK Visas and Immigration website.


Innovation Viability Scalability
Is there a genuine business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage? Does the applicant have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business? Is there evidence of structured planning and of potential job creation and growth into national and international markets?


The University of Portsmouth is one of the endorsing institutions for this visa, and requires applicants to meet the following criteria in full:

  • Demonstrate a level of knowledge for the business sector for your product or service, to provide some evidence that you might be able to achieve what you set out in your business plan
  • Connect with experts (academics at the University of Portsmouth or others based in industry) in the relevant business sector to receive early stage feedback 
  • Be either a current international student at the University of Portsmouth or have graduated within the last 5 years
  • Complete the initial application form (available from the Student StartUp team)
  • Be fully engaged with the Student StartUp team at the University and must participate fully on the RoutetoStartup programme
  • Meet all eligibility requirements as set out by the UK Government UK Visas and Immigration website - start-up visa

The Process

Contact the Student StartUp team either by visiting one of the Enterprise Clinics (held every Wednesday 2pm - 4pm and every Friday 9:30am – 11:30am) or by emailing for an appointment. Please note that until further notice, these are taking place virtually

At this stage you must submit a draft business plan and show proof of: 

  • An academic reference
  • Degree certificate (if already received)
Business plan templates can be found on the Student StartUp website in the resources section under 'business planning'.

After reviewing the business plan the Student StartUp team will notify you whether you are eligible to progress to the next stage. This will depend on the criteria as laid out by the Government above.

In order to proceed and present your business idea to the endorsement panel you must submit a robust and comprehensive business plan to the Student StartUp team by the set deadline. All relevant deadlines can be found here.

In order to qualify, your business plan must make good use of graduate-level skills and demonstrate how the business will contribute to the UK economy. Business proposals which seek to establish a routine business which will merely compete with other local traders are very unlikely to be successful. The final business plan will be sent for external review.

The Student StartUp team reserves the right to refuse a formal application if the business plan does not reach a quality threshold deemed worthy of external scrutiny.

If successful at step 5 you will be invited to present your business plan to the endorsement panel.

The panel meets twice per year: Nov/Dec and May/June. 

You will deliver a 15-minute presentation to the panel which will be followed by a question and answer session. 

The Evaluation Panel will comprise of the following: 

  • one staff member from the Student StartUp team 
  • one staff member from Academic Registry 
  • one senior academic member of University staff 
  • one subject/industry expert 
  • one visiting entrepreneur 

NB: all panel members will be asked to declare any personal or professional interests or connections prior to the panel meeting.

The decision of the panel will be final. There is no appeal. In rare circumstances  you may be asked to supply further information to the panel in a given timeframe before a decision is confirmed in writing. 

If your application is successful the University of Portsmouth will issue an endorsement letter for you to submit to the UKVI.

Notes of the meeting (and supporting documentation) will be made available to the UKVI on request.

The University is responsible for supervising successful applicants for 24 months following Start-up visa confirmation from the UKVI. The applicant must notify the Student StartUp team in writing as soon as formal notice of Start-up visa status is received from UKVI.

A supervisor will be appointed to undertake the 24 months supervisory process. 

The supervisor will arrange an initial meeting with the Start-up visa holder and must make contact at six-monthly intervals when the visa-holder must present their progress and the current status of their business. Company accounts and business records will be fully reviewed and the supervisor will complete the attached Appendix 1 at the end of each supervision. 

Some of these meetings may be via Skype, but at least two, usually the initial meeting and again at month 12, should be face-to-face. All meetings will be recorded by the Supervisor, who will notify the Student StartUp team that the meetings have taken place and will pass on any relevant meetings notes and company records.

In order to comply with UKVI’s requirements, Start-up visa-holders must show evidence of satisfactory progress and that they are dedicating sufficient time to the development of the business. If Start-up visa-holders fail to satisfy any of these requirements or fail to attend monitoring meetings, the University of Portsmouth is obliged to report non-compliance to UKVI. 

All reasonable expenses related to supervisory visits and reports will be covered by the Start-up visa holder – covering travel and accommodation costs and must be paid directly to the University (not staff).

Further information and advice

Speak with our Careers and Employability Service or an International Student Adviser for further information and advice about these visas.

Immigration Rules may be subject to change at short notice. We will update information as soon as possible when it has been confirmed.

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