Careers Service

Permission to work in the UK - the facts

Recruiting international students in the UK is straightforward and we are here to help

Students from within the EU, EEA and Switzerland should not require any permission to work in the UK. There are currently some restrictions for students from Croatia.

Undergraduate students on a Tier 4 visa are entitled to work full-time for a period of around 3-4 months after their studies have ended before this visa expires. Students studying a full time Masters programme on a Tier 4 visa are entitled to work full-time for a period of 6 months after the programme has ended. In both cases, this must be in a temporary role.

Longer-term employment - concessions for Tier 4 students:

It may be easier than you think to apply for a visa for one of our international graduates.

If you are on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Register of Sponsors, and a Tier 4 student has applied for Tier 2 before the expiry of their Tier 4 visa from within the UK (and has been awarded their degree level qualification (Bachelors' or Masters'), or completed at least 12 months of their PhD) the following concessions apply:

  • Exemption from the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) - Tier 4 students will be considered as 'settled' workers for this purpose
  • Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) - will not count towards the 20,000 cap
  • Lower salary requirement of £20,800, or industry minimum
  • No migrant skills levy
  • Automatically meet English language requirements

Tier 4 -> Tier 2 Timeframe:

  • Students must apply from with the UK and must apply before their visa expires
  • Applications can be made 3 months in advance of the start of the job
  • Students can start work on a full time, permanent basis once they have submitted their application (this will depend on employer).

Tier 2 route:

  • The Tier 2 (general) visa is to allow qualified non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals to come to the UK to work
  • Employers must have a Tier 2 license from UKVI
  • Jobs must be at graduate level - Refer to for more information.

*Information correct as of 03/04/19. Up-to-date information can be found on UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

You can read more about the advice we give to students about working in the UK after their studies.

Apply for a sponsor licence 

  • If you are not on the UKVI Register of Sponsors, obtaining a licence is a straightforward application process where the sponsor submits documents evidencing its UK base and commitment to required HR practices. It takes between 1 and 3 months

Overview of key schemes: 

Detailed information on schemes which allow students to work in the UK while studying and after graduation:

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

Related links 

The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services guide for employers recruiting international graduates

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