Working in the UK after your studies

How do I find a job?

Finding a job after graduation is always difficult but particularly so for international graduates who will need immigration permission. You should start researching job options early, and have a firm grasp of the different immigration options before you start applying.

For advice on developing your CV and finding a job, you should contact the Career Zone early on in your course. Their website is full of helpful information, including a section specifically for international students. Careers Advisers can give you one to one advice including help with your CV, where and how to look for a job and interview techniques.

Working Visa Options

Tier 2 (General) Visa

  • For this visa you must have a job offer from an employer with a Tier 2 sponsor licence. A list of sponsors can be found here.
  • The employer issues a Confirmation of Sponsorship (CoS) to support your application.
  • The job must be a graduate level job (NQF Level 6+)
  • The salary must be £20,800 or more per year, though certain professions require higher minimum salaries, e.g. a Business Consultant: £23,000. You can check the NQF level and minimum salary for a particular job here.
  • Usually the job must have been advertised and no UK resident worker found to fill the position (Resident Labour Market Test).  However, most Tier 4 students who have recently graduated or have completed over 12 months of a PhD are exempt from this requirement.
  • You can switch from a Tier 4 student visa to a Tier 2 (General) visa in the UK.
  • The number of visas granted each year in this category is capped for applicants applying outside the UK.
  • You have to prove that you have English language skills, which you meet if you have a UK degree.
  • You must meet financial maintenance requirements: bank statement showing £945 for 90 days OR your employer is an A rated sponsor and ticks a box on the CoS to certify they will maintain and accommodate you for the first month.
  • If you are unsure whether an employer could sponsor you under Tier 2 for a job you have seen advertised, we recommend that you contact the human resources department and enquire before you proceed with an application.
  • Useful websites: UK Home Office  and  UKCISA.

Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Visa

This is a visa category for employees based outside the UK working for a multi-national company. It provides visas lasting between 6 months and 9 years to enable the employee to work, gain skills or train others in the UK branch of the company. More information can be found here.

Tier 4 (Doctorate Extension Scheme) Visa: Available to PhD students only, please see our separate webpage on this topic.

Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange)

  • The Tier 5 (GAE) scheme is designed to enable applicants to gain work experience, conduct research, or take a training position for 12/24 months. 
  • This route may be suitable for you if you are seeking an internship position (work experience)
  • Work experience under Tier 5 (GAE) is limited to 12 months.
  • The employer is not permitted to offer you employment following the internship / work placement. It is a condition of the visa that you leave the UK at the end of the visa period.
  • Unlike Tier 2, the employer is not the immigration sponsor, instead the employer must register with an overarching body (a government authorised scheme) that provides the sponsorship certificate to support your visa application.
  • Information from the Home Office on Tier 5 (GAE) is found here.  From this page you can follow the links to a list of approved schemes for Tier 5. Here you may find a scheme that is specific to your chosen profession or your nationality.
  • GTI Solutions (www.tier5intern.com) is an example of a Tier 5(GAE) sponsorship scheme. In addition to applying for advertised internship positions, you might also consider approaching an employer you are keen to work with and suggesting that they register with this or a similar scheme in order to offer you work experience. The Tier 5 Intern website above has advice for employers on the process. For guidance on how to present your proposal to an employer consult the Career Zone.

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Visa

This is a 2 year working visa for applicants aged 18-30 with one of these nationalities: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Monaco, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and British Overseas Citizens/Nationals.

It must be applied for from your home country and cannot be extended. Further information can be found here.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa

  • If you are a graduating University of Exeter student on a Tier 4 visa and you have a hope to start a business in the UK, the University may be able to endorse your application for a Tier 1(GE) visa.
  • This visa is for 12 months and can be extended by a further 12 months, after which you may be able to switch to a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) or Tier 2 (General) visa.
  • You must meet financial maintenance requirements: bank statement showing £945 for 90 days
  • Full details of how to apply are on the Career Zone website.

Other Options 

There may be other immigration routes you can take if you have family from the UK or Europe / if you are Turkish / if you have large amounts of money to invest in the UK / if you are a recognised leader in your field of work. Ask us for more information if one of these situations may apply to you.

If you are a current Exeter student or have graduated in the last 6 months, you are welcome to contact the International Student Support Office at sid@exeter.ac.uk with any queries.