Working in the UK after study

If you're an international student and you would like to work in the UK after graduating then please be aware of the immigration rules that apply to you.

There are several different visa categories available to graduating students, and each has their own eligibility requirements and application routes. 

Tier 4 - Doctorate Extension Scheme

If you're studying a PhD, the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) allows you to spend one year in the UK after you've completed your studies. You can be employed or self-employed. You have to apply under Tier 4 - DES before you hand in the final hard bound version of your thesis.

Key points:

  • You can only request a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to apply under Tier 4 - DES after your viva has taken place.
  • You can only apply under Tier 4 - DES before your PhD is awarded. You cannot apply after your award date. 
  • You can apply for the scheme up to 60 days before your expected completion date. This date is agreed between you and the University after your viva, and is the estimated date that your name will appear on a pass list.
  • You can't apply under Tier 4 - DES after your expected completion date or after you have handed in the final hard bound version of your thesis.
  • You can't apply under Tier 4 - DES after your Tier 4 visa has expired.
  • You need to have held £2,030 in your bank account every day for 28 days to make a valid application.
  • If you apply with dependants, £1,360 for each dependant also need to be held in the bank account every day for 28 days.
  • If your PhD required Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance, you will only need to apply for a new ATAS certificate if your course has been extended for more than 3 months. 
  • Please note if you were financially sponsored for the duration of your studies and your sponsorship came to end within the last 12 months, you must obtain a letter from your sponsor in which they give their written consent to you making a Tier 4 - DES application. If you cannot obtain this letter, then you cannot request a CAS or make a Tier 4 - DES application as this is a mandatory document required by UKVI.

How to get your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies for the Doctorate Extension Scheme

  1. You need to request a CAS by completing this CAS request form for the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES).
  2. Complete the CAS request form. Save the form electronically with your surname in capitals first and your forename second. 
  3. You must submit your bank statement with your CAS request form to confirm that you meet the Tier 4 - DES financial requirements.
  4. A CAS cannot be issued unless you meet the UKVI financial requirements at the time of your request.
  5. UKVI guidance states that a DES CAS can only be issued within 60 days of your new course end date. For this reason there may be a delay in issuing your CAS.
  6. Email your CAS request form with a scan of your financial documents to the International Student Office
  7. If your financial evidence meets the Tier 4-DES requirements, Postgraduate Research & Operations will issue your CAS.
  8. Please follow the guidance on our Extending your visa in the UK page to locate and complete the Tier 4 application form and confirm the cost of the application. 

Start Up Visa

The University of Leeds can sponsor up to 20 students under the Start up scheme, which now replaced the previous Tier 1 - Graduate Entrepreneur scheme.

If you would like to establish your own business in the UK, you should book an appointment to discuss this with Brian Baillie in the SPARK team at the Careers Centre.

The Careers Centre can assist you to develop your business idea and if your idea is accepted, the University of Leeds will issue an endorsement letter to enable you make a visa application under Tier 1 - Graduate Entrepreneur scheme.

If you are applying the UK, you need to hold £945 for 90 consecutive days in your bank account statement, with the statement being no more than 31 days old at the time of your visa application.  The cost of this application is £493.

If you are successful in applying under this scheme, you will be issued with a 2 year visa. You cannot apply for a Start up extension visa, therefore you would need to switch to another type of visa before the visa expires if you wish to remain in the UK beyond the expiry period. 

Your spouse/child family members can apply to be your dependants on this visa. £630 per dependant held for 90 consecutive days in their or your bank statement is needed to meet the financial requirements. 

If you currently hold an initial 12 month Tier 1 - Graduate Entrepreneur visa, you can apply to switch to the Start up visa before your current visa expires. 

The International Student Office can check your visa application for you and we can also assist with enquires regarding this visa at our drop-in session and via e-mail.

For further information about this scheme please see the website.

Tier 2

If you're an international student who has graduated with a degree from a UK university, you're entitled to apply in the Tier 2 (skilled worker) category of the Points Based System. 

The International Student Office can check Tier 2 applications forms and documents for free, but can't send the application for you.

Key points:

  • You can apply up to three months before the expected completion date of your course and have evidence of the date you are expected to complete the course from the University.
  • You must have an offer of employment from an employer who is registered as a Tier 2 sponsor.
  • You must have a certificate of sponsorship from that employer.
  • Minimum salary of £20,800 or industry equivalent if higher as outlined in the Immigration Rules Appendix J: codes of practice for skilled work. A graduate switching between a Tier 4 to Tier 2 visa can meet the new entrant* salary rate. The minimum salary varies depending on the occupation and in many cases is more than £20,800
  • If you are classed as an experienced worker the minimum salary is £30,000 or industry equivalent if higher as outlined in the Immigration Rules Appendix J: codes of practice for skilled work
  • The employer does not need to undertake the Resident Labour Market Test if you are applying in the UK.
  • Application requirements and guidance documents are available from UK Visas & Immigration.
  • A full list of current Tier 2 licensed sponsors is available from UK Visas & Immigration.
  • The application fee for a 3 year Tier 2 application is £704, the cost for a Tier 2 visa over 3 years is £1,408.
  • *New Entrants are defined as new applicants to the Tier 2 (General) visa category who are under 26 years of age, are switching from a Tier 4 visa, or have been hired through a milkround recruitment process.

Tier 5

There are several opportunities to apply to work in the UK under a Tier 5 category of the Points Based System. A full list of the categories can be viewed on the website.

If you're interested in working in the UK under the International Student Internship Scheme, you will need to apply for sponsorship from Access Tier 5. Once you've received sponsorship you can then make a visa application in the UK under the Tier 5 - Government Authorised Exchange scheme.

A full list of current Tier 5 licensed sponsors are available from the Home Office.


If you're planning to stay in the UK you must make an immigration application before your current permission expires.

Alternatively, you can make applications in your home country, but carefully check the criteria as there are different requirements when you make an application from outside the UK.

Most nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA) can work in the UK without restriction. Croatian nationals may need to apply for worker authorisation or a registration certificate.

Further information

If, after reading these pages, you still have questions, you can call the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) advice line or seek independent legal advice.

You can also come to a drop-in session at the International Student Office for further advice. Drop-in takes place at 10.30am every day between Monday and Friday.

The Careers Centre has a full list of services to assist you in finding employment following your studies.