Work Options for International Students in the UK

In April 2012 UK universities closed down the PSW (Post Study Work Visa) which enabled international students to stay back in the UK for up to two years after completion of their course of study. This brought about a drop in students applying to the UK as well as a lot of uncertainty about whether students were going to be allowed to stay back at all or would need to return immediately after their course was over. Let’s have a look at the rules and regulations for international students in the UK vis-a-vis a work visa.

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

The Graduate Entrepreneur scheme came into force in April 2012. It is aimed at recent graduates who have "genuine and credible business ideas and entrepreneurial skills" and whose UK university is prepared to endorse them under this scheme to help them develop these ideas. Since April 2014, it has been possible to be endorsed by an institution other than the one at which you have studied.

Tier 2

This is the main route if you would like to take up employment. The lowest wage for this scheme is £20,800, but this depends on the job and can be higher. In order to apply under Tier 2 (General), you must meet all the following requirements:

  • Your employer must have a Tier 2 sponsor licence

  • Your job must have a particular skills level

  • There is a minimum wage level of £20,800 (£20,500 if your certificate of sponsorship was issued before 6 April 2015), though this depends on the job and can be higher

  • Usually the job must have been advertised as required by the Home Office, but most Tier 4 students who have graduated recently are exempt from this advertising requirement

  • You have to prove that you have English language skills, which you meet if you have a UK degree, and meet maintenance requirements.

With both of the above it is important to remember the following:

  • You might have to return to your home country to apply from there. This is because most of the schemes have strict rules about who is allowed to 'switch' from another immigration category (for example, 'student'), into the scheme whilst still in the UK.

  • You must have successfully completed your course before you can apply to 'switch' into the scheme.

  • If you want to stay in the UK under one of these schemes, you must make your application before your current permission to be here as a student expires.

  • If you have been sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency for your studies, most of the schemes require that you obtain their written consent before you apply to stay on in the UK.

*information provided by

University Options assists students with the entire application process from choosing universities to guidance on essays as well as post application follow up.

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