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Working visas

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Skilled Worker Overview + Q&A webinar where you can find out more about the Skilled Worker rules, learn how to interpret them for yourself, and ask general questions. Register here.

In this section, we have put together basic information on a selection of visa categories that most interest international students. This list is in no way exhaustive as there are other immigration routes available to you depending on your situation.

The main working visa in the UK is the Skilled Worker visa (previously named Tier 2 (General)) which requires you to be sponsored by an employer in much the same way as the University of Exeter sponsor you for a Student visa. From May 2024, our team will host monthly informative Q & A sessions where you can learn more about this type of visa - details TBC.

Help finding a job? Working in collaboration with the Student Employability and Development team, we co-host a range of workshop sessions specifically for international students - for full details see events on Handshake.

Information for employers. If you feel a prospective employer would benefit from further information on the working visa options for international students, you may want to share the following documents with them:

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 Student visa route.  You may also find the UKCISA website useful.

This new visa category is for Tier 4/Student graduates to remain in the UK to live and work for 2 years after their studies (3 years for PhD graduates). Detailed information on eligibility and application process can be found on our Graduate visa page.

Under the Skilled Worker route you must obtain 70 points to be eligible for a visa:

50 points are automatically obtained from:

  • Having a job offer from an employer with a sponsor licence (20 points). See the Register of Sponsors for a full list.
  • Having a job at an appropriate skill level (20 points). The minimum skill level is RQF level 3 (A level).
  • Meeting the English Language requirement (10 points). Either by being a national of a majority English speaking country or having a degree taught in English in a majority English speaking country and providing a NARIC statement to confirm this.

A further 20 points must then be obtained from one of the following tradeable characteristics:

  • Meeting the general salary threshold (20 points). The absolute minimum individuals can be paid is expected to increase to £38,700 in April 2024 (details to be confirmed). Further detail around the job specific salary thresholds is also still to be confirmed.
  • Having a relevant PhD (10 points) plus being paid at 90% of the appropriate rate (10 points).
  • Having a PhD in a STEM subject (20 points).
  • Being a new entrant (20 points). The new entrant rate applies to students switching from Tier 4/student route, applicants under age 26 or anyone moving into a postdoctoral position (researcher/lecturer) providing the contract duration does not exceed 4 years.

Providing you meet the eligibility criteria above, the employer will issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to support your visa application.  For graduates, CoS numbers can be issued no earlier than 3 months before the official end date of your course.

To assess your eligibility for a Skilled Worker visa, please refer to the guidance here which includes a list of eligible occupations.

You can switch into the Skilled Worker route from most other visa categories (except visitors) without having to leave the UK.

When you can start work will depend on a number of factors such as when you apply for the Skilled Worker visa and when your Tier 4/Student visa was granted.  Read through the information on UKCISA for further details and remember to always check with your employer. 

This visa route opened in April 2023 and replaces the Start-Up visa route. 

An Innovator Founder visa is suitable for early-stage entrepreneurs who have not previously established a business in the UK. Those who apply for this visa are likely to be current University of Exeter students studying here on a Student/Tier 4 visa. 

What are the requirements of the Innovator Founder Visa? 

  1. Endorsement: Endorsement letter from an endorsing body. 

  1. Financial requirements: You are exempt from the Finance requirement if you have lived in the UK with a valid visa for the 12 months before you submit your visa application and are making your visa application from inside the UK. 

All other applicants, including those applying outside the UK, must meet the Finance requirement. 

You are required to have £1,270 for 28 days and will need to evidence this with a bank statementYou can use an account in your name only or a joint account if you are one of the account holdersYou cannot use an account in the name of your parent or legal guardian. 

  1. Previous sponsorship: 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. 

  1. English language requirement: Not required if switching from Student/Tier 4 from inside the UKOtherwise unless you are a national of a majority English language country, you will need evidence of your English language level. You can use your University of Exeter degree certificate or an in-date IELTS certificate (minimum of 5.5).  


How do I get an endorsement? 

There are now three endorsing bodies. Each are seeking applications direct to them via their websites (UK Endorsing Services / Envestors / and Innovator International  

  • They are all using the same assessment criteria, set out by the Home Office. 

  • They will not be providing any support to applicants and advise that they won’t be able, due to GDPR, share details of applications with any other advisors (eg. University enterprise staff) but applicants may share their details with other people prior to application for advice/feedback 

  • Time frames from application to approval are 20 working days (max) but are currently assessing in much less (approx. 5 days) 

How much does it cost? 

  • Visa application fee (£1,191 – £1,486) 
  • Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (£3,105) 
  • Endorsing Bodies fees: Usually £1,000 for an initial assessment, followed by £500-£1,000 for checkpoint fees at the 12-month and 24-month marks. This means a total cost of endorsement services of ranges from £2,000-£3,000 for each full 3-year visa cycle. 

Can I switch from a Student visa or a Graduate visa to an Innovator Founder visa from inside the UK? 

You can either apply from inside the UK (switching from a Student/Tier 4 visa),or apply from your home country.  

How much time do I get on this visa? 

You will be granted a 3 year visa. Then, if eligible, after 3 years you can apply for a 3 year extension or apply to settle permanently in the UK. 

What are the restrictions of this visa? 

You cannot work as a professional sportsperson/coach and cannot receive public funds (benefits). For information on this and a list of permitted activities please see the page directly. 

Great! Where shall I start? 

Come along to a Student Startup Information session to learn more about this visa and how the team can help you work towards a successful endorsement. Sessions take place throughout the year along with other useful workshops – find the full list on the Student Startup website 

And after that? 

We recommend you engage with the Student Startup programme, submit your business idea for review by the Student Startup team and if considered viable, you will develop your business idea further with the Student Startup team before applying for endorsement. For full details of the Student Startup programme, visit the Business School website. 

Will I get help with applying for the Innovator Founder Visa? 

International Student Support can help to check and submit visa applications with students who have successfully received a valid endorsement 

At the end of the BMBS Medicine programme, students can apply for a Health and Care visa to continue as a Foundation Trainee. Health Education England will provide you with advice and support once you have accepted your UK Foundation Programme offer. See HEE information sheet for details.

This is a one off 2-year working visa for applicants aged 18-30 and from: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, or Taiwan.  Applicants can also apply if they are a British Overseas Citizen, British Overseas Territories Citizen or British Overseas National. 

Nationals from San Marino can apply from San Marino, but must also provide a Certificate of Sponsorship issued by that country or territory.

From June 2023, New Zealand nationals will qualify for a 3 year visa for those aged 18-35. 

*Hong Kong, Japan, Republic of Korea & Taiwan - need to submit an expression of interest and the Home Office then chooses at random who to issue an invitation to.

**India Young Professionals Scheme is ballot application process which open periodically.

  • You must provide a TB certificate (if applicable).
  • You must meet the minimum financial requirements of £2,530 for 28 days.
  • You can submit your application in your home country or in any other country worldwide as long as that post accepts Youth Mobility Scheme visa applications and you are legally resident in that country for more than 6 months (with the exceptions of San Marino nationals)
  • This visa cannot be extended. 

More information can be found on the Home Office and UKCISA websites as well as in the Youth Mobility Scheme guidance.  

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 ( 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. 

» Graduate visa

Information on the UK's post study work visa which is called Graduate visa.

» Skilled Worker visa

Information on the UK's main work visa - the Skilled Worker visa.