Visa Options After You Graduate

Most students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), who are studying in the UK, need to leave the UK at the end of their studies. Students from EU countries or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can live, study and work in the UK with few restrictions.

However, if you have immigration restrictions as a student, you may be able to stay and work in the UK. Check the requirements for schemes operated by the UK government.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

This is for students who have been identified by UK universities to have developed innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills and want to stay in the UK to develop their business. Successful applications will give permission to stay for 12 months, which may be extended to 24 months if successful progress can be shown.  For details of all Tier 1 routes visit the Home Office (UKVI) website or contact our Student Advice Service.

Tier 2 (General)

Tier 2 is aimed at recent graduates with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, PhD, PGCE or PGDE. Applicants must have been offered a skilled job by a Tier 2 sponsor and a salary of at least £20,500. For those who apply within the UK while a current Tier 4 (General) student, there is no requirement for the job to pass the ‘resident labour market test’. For Tier 2 details, visit the Home Office (UKVI) website or contact our Student Advice Service.

Tier 5 (Temporary Worker- Government Authorised Exchange)

This is a new scheme in place to provide individuals from outside the EEA or Switzerland with the opportunity to share knowledge, experience and practice through work placements in the UK.  For further details on this particular type of visa, visit the UKVI website

You can also view the full list of the approved Tier 5 government authorised exchange schemes:

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)

The Youth Mobility Scheme is aimed at young people aged 18 to 31 from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Taiwan who want to experience life in the UK and lasts up to two years. For details of the Tier 5 categories, visit the Home Office (UKVI) website or contact our Student Advice Service.

Ancestry Visa

To stay in the UK on an ancestry visa, the following rules apply: 

  • You must be a Commonwealth citizen
  • Be aged 17 or over
  • Be able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK and Islands; or before 31 March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland; or on a British-registered ship or aircraft.
  • Be able to work, and plan to work, in the UK.
  • Be able to adequately support and accommodate yourself and your dependants without help from public funds.

Ancestry visas can be granted for up to 5 years. In order to apply for settlement (in an employment-related category), you will need to be in the UK lawfully for 5 years. For further information, please visit the Home Office (UKVI) website

Partner of someone settled in the UK

  • Married persons

If you marry a British citizen who is currently living and settled in the UK (or returning to the UK to live with you permanently), you can apply to remain in the UK as their 'spouse'. Usually you will be granted a period of 2.5 to stay in the UK. After this you can apply for an additional 2.5 if you still meet the requirements. After 5 years, if you meet all the requirements, you can apply for 'settlement' (to stay in the UK indefinitely).

If you have permission to be in the UK as a student (for a period longer than 6 months) you can switch into this category; otherwise you may have to return home and apply from your home country. 

  • Civil partnerships

Civil partners are same-sex couples who have legally registered their partnership. They have the same immigration entitlements as married persons (see above). 

  • Unmarried partners

If you have been living in the UK for 2 years with a person who has settled status in the UK, you can apply to the Home Office to remain in the UK as their 'unmarried partner'. Usually you will be granted 2 years to stay in the UK. After 2 years you can apply for 'indefinite leave to remain' (to stay in the UK indefinitely). This rule applies to both heterosexual and same-sex partnerships. Same sex couples may wish to contact the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group for advice. For more information, visit the Home Office (UKVI) website

Elected Student Union Sabbatical Officer

You can apply to extend your stay as a Tier 4 student to take up a full-time post as a Student Union sabbatical officer during or immediately after your studies. See the UKVI website or contact the Student Advice Service for details.

Long residency

You may be able to apply for 'indefinite leave to remain' if you have lived in the UK for a period of: 

  • 10 years continuous lawful residence, or
  • 14 years continuous residence of any kind.

For more information, visit the UKVI website. It is advisable to seek specialist immigration advice when you apply for long residency.

Help and advice

The University’s Student Advice Service can offer you advice on student immigration issues, but they may need to refer you to a specialist if you need help with other immigration issues.