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Working visas

In this section, we have put together basic information on a selection of visa categories that most interest international students. If you have an EU/EEA passport, then you do not need a visa to work in the UK.

This list is in no way exhaustive as there are other immigration routes available if you:

  • have family from the UK or Europe
  • are a Turkish worker or
  • have large amounts of money to invest in the UK (£2,000,000+) or
  • are a recognised leader in your field of work.

The main working visa in the UK is the Tier 2 (General) visa which requires you to be sponsored by an employer in much the same way as the University of Exeter sponsor you for a Tier 4 student visa. There are a few other visa options that may apply to you depending on your situation.

If you are a current Exeter student or have graduated in the last 6 months, you are welcome to contact us about any visa category, however our area of expertise mainly lies within the Tier 4 route.  You may also find the UKCISA website useful.

Prezi - Working after your studies

Take a look at our Prezi below to see what options are available to you after you graduate:


From 6th July 2019, the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa category will be replaced by the Start-up visa category.  

If you have an innovative business idea and have engaged with the Think, Try, Do programme, then you may be eligible to be endorsed by the University of Exeter for a Start-up visa.  

  • This visa is for 2 years, after which you may be able to switch to an Innovator or Tier 2 (General) visa. 
  • You can apply from inside the UK (switch from Tier 4) or your home country.
  • You must be a University of Exeter graduate.
  • You must meet financial maintenance requirements: bank statement showing £945 for 90 days.  You can use an account in your name only or a joint account if you are one of the account holders.  You cannot use an account in the name of your parent or legal guardian.
  • If you are currently financially sponsored by a government or an international scholarship agency or your financial sponsorship ended within the past 12 months, you will need your sponsor's unconditional written permission to stay in or re-enter the UK and make this immigration application.
  • Full details of how to apply for an endorsement are on the Career Zone website. 
  • Once you have an endorsement, our office can check and submit your visa application with you. 
  • You must have a job offer from an employer with a Tier 2 sponsor licence. A list of sponsors can be found on the Home Office website.
  • The employer issues a Certificate 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 Visas and Immigration and UKCISA. 

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 on the Home Office website. 

As a student completing a PhD programme at the University of Exeter, may want to consider extending your Tier 4 visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme

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. More information can be found on the Home Office and UKCISA websites.  

Graduates seeking internship opportunities may want to approach employers willing to subscribe to the Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) scheme which is designed to enable applicants to gain work experience, conduct research, or take a training position for 12 or 24 months.  

  • Suitable 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 or 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. 
  • Read through the information on the Home Office website where you can follow the links to a list of approved schemes for Tier 5. You may find a scheme that is specific to your chosen profession or your nationality. 
  • Access Tier 5 (www.accesstier5.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 Access Tier 5 website above has advice for employers on the process. For guidance on how to present your proposal to an employer consult the Career Zone.