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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 will be launched at 9am on 1 July 2021. This route is a new post study graduate visa. The visa will be for 2 years for Undergraduate and Masters students. If you are studying a PhD level course this visa will be for 3 years. 

Applications can only be made in the UK and the cost will be £700 for the visa. You will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of the visa application, this will cost £624 per year.

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

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.

In order to apply you must have already successfully completed your course.

The University will need to notify the Home Office that you have been awarded your qualification before you apply for this visa.

The exact system for this has not yet been announced.

You will normally be expected to undertake your course in the UK to be eligible for the Graduate Immigration Route (GIR).

You will need to hold a valid 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. 

Due to Coronavirus the following concessions apply for this year:

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 on or before 21 June 2021 to complete your course.

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 on or before 27 September 2021 to complete your course.

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 course.

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 and connected study that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021.

In all cases, you must have unexpired Tier 4 or Student permission when you apply for the Graduate Immigration route visa and you must meet all the requirements.

You cannot apply if you have Exceptional Assurance.

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.

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.

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

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

Skilled Worker route

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

If you have a Student visa you will qualify for the lower 'new entrant' wage for up to two years after your Student permission expires and the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) will be removed for all applicants.

Further information can be found on the UKCISA website.

Doctorate Extension Scheme visa

If you've almost finished your PhD, you can apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme visa. This gives you an additional 12 months of leave in which to look for and start work in the UK. If you want to do this, you need to declare your interest by emailing our Department of Student and Academic Administration at

Find out more by contacting the International Student Advice team.

We understand that this visa will be discontinued when the Graduate Immigration Route starts.

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.

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