11th December 2020

Working After Studies

This section gives you an overview of your rights to work in the UK after your studies if you are an international student in the UK. This includes information about working on your student visa after the end of the course and an overview of the main work visa routes, which you may be able to switch into or apply for after your studies.

  1. Working on Student Visa after completion of study
  2. Graduate route
  3. Doctorate extension scheme
  4. Skilled worker route (Formerly Tier 2)
  5. Temporary worker route (Tier 5)
  6. Start up Visa
  7. Global talent Visa

Please note that major changes have been introduced to the UK Immigration system over the last few months with the introduction of the new points based immigration system. See the Government further details statement on the new points based immigration system for a brief overview of these changes.

Every effort is made to ensure that these pages are up to date but changes can be made with very little notice, so always check the latest UKVI guidance and ensure you have the most up to date information.

UKCISA also has useful information on working after study.

Due to the Covid 19 pandemic UKVI visa processes, waiting times and documentary requirements are subject to change. Please check the latest UKVI Covid 19 guidance for details.

What are key changes to look out for?

  • The Tier 4 Student visa has been replaced by the Student Route from 5th October 2020. (Any reference to Tier 4 in guidance etc should now state Student visa)
  • Tier 2(General) route for sponsored skilled work was replaced on 1 December 2020 by the new Skilled Worker route for all non-UK, non-Irish nationals. There are some positive changes which could help students move more easily into this route after their studies.
  • 31 December 2020 was the deadline for EEA and Swiss nationals to move to the UK under their right of free movement under EU law. They can secure their ongoing right to work by applying under the EU Settlement Scheme by the deadline of 30 June 2021. Those who arrive on or after 1 January 2021 will be subject to immigration control and will need visas for study and work.
  • In summer 2021 (actual date yet to be confirmed) the new 2-year Graduate route is due to open. PhD graduates will get 3 years. Students who are due to graduate in 2021 and currently distance learning outside the UK will need to return to the UK for their last semester, deadline 6 April 2021, in order to be eligible under the Graduate route.
  • The current Doctorate Extension Scheme is expected to close and merge with the Graduate route.
  • Remember that the Student Advice Centre can offer advice and support with post study work visas to current students and recent graduates (within 1 year of graduating). If you need further advice about your personal situation and options please email advice@sheffield.ac.uk.

Working on Student Visa after completion of study

Once you have completed your course and whilst your Tier 4/ Student visa remains valid, the Home Office allows you to work full-time, within the following limits.

  • You cannot fill a full-time permanent vacancy (other than on a recognised Foundation Programme).
  • You cannot be self-employed.
  • You cannot be employed as a professional sportsperson, coach or entertainer.

You are allowed to work unlimited hours once you are considered to have completed your course but not in a permanent graduate level role. Most students will be granted 4 months 'wrap up' time after the end of the course.

There are different definitions for when you are considered to have completed your course depending on your level of study.

For PhD students, course completion means receiving the official notification of degree award.

For Masters and Undergraduate students, course completion usually means the course end date as stated on your CAS as long as you have completed all required assessment by this date.

Please note if you complete your course early, the University has to report this to UKVI. This could result in your visa being curtailed to 4 months after the new end date. You should work for a maximum of 4 months after the completion of your course or until the end of your student visa, whichever comes soonest.

You must not take a permanent role unless alternative immigration status is obtained e.g. applied for Skilled worker visa and have completed your course.

See UKCISA for further detailed information on student work and what kinds of work you can and cannot do.

An Employers Guide to Right to Work Checks also confirms your right to work after the course end date until your visa expires and can be useful to refer to, if Employers are unsure about your right to work full time.

Don’t leave your job search too late and seek careers advice to help with your CV & Applications. Visit the Careers page on international employment.

Finding a job during the Covid 19 pandemic is challenging . challenges. Here are some further resources which may help:

Graduate Route

The Government has announced that it is to introduce a 2-year post-study (Graduate) work visa for international students studying in the UK. This is very welcome news and is the result of successful lobbying from your SU/University and wider Education Sector. Unfortunately, it will not be introduced until the summer of 2021.

More information is available on our Graduate Route page:

Graduate Route Scheme

Doctorate extension scheme

The Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) is an extension of the Tier 4 student visa but it allows Tier 4 students who complete a PhD at a UK institution time to find work, set up as an entrepreneur, or to gain practical work experience in their field. It can provide an opportunity for PhD students to find and undertake employment (or self-employment) in the UK and allows time for PhD student to find graduate full time employment under Tier 2.

More information is available on our Doctorate Extension Scheme page:

Doctorate Extension Scheme

Skilled worker route (Formerly Tier 2)

The Skilled Worker visa (SW) is the main work visa route under the Points Based Immigration system. It was introduced on 1st December 2020, replacing Tier 2.

More information is available on our Skilled Worker Visa page:

Skilled Worker Visa

Temporary worker route (Tier 5)

If you do not have a graduate job offer from a Tier 2 sponsor but have managed to find a short work placement or internship after your studies you may be able to stay to do this under your Student Visa. You can do a short work placement or internship full time after the end of your studies until the expiry of your Student visa. If you want to then stay on longer you may wish to consider a Temporary worker visa. Please note students who graduate from summer 2021 will be able to apply for the new Graduate route and that could be a better option for internships.

More information is available on our Temporary Worker Route page:

Temporary Worker Route

Start up Visa

This visa route is for international students/graduates who wish to start a business in the UK for the first time. You must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea and be endorsed by the University.

The University of Sheffield can endorse up to 20 recent graduates per year under the scheme. See below for more details of the endorsement application process and visa requirements.

More information is available on our Start Up Visa page:

Start Up Visa

Global talent Visa

This visa was introduced on 20th February 2020 and replaces the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa.

More information is available on our Global Talent Visa page:

Global Talent Visa