International Student Support

Working in the UK after your studies

Find out about working in the UK and information about our Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Scheme, Tier 1 Entrepreneurs, Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, Tier 2, Tier 5, and the Doctorate Extension Scheme. Tier 2 is the main employment route if you are a student and you want to stay in the UK to work.


Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, Tier 1 Entrepreneurs and Tier 1 Exceptional Talent

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneurs

Information on Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur 

Register for the launch of this year’s scheme which is being held on 9th October 2018:

Tier 1 Entrepreneurs

This category is aimed at individuals whose intention it is to invest in the UK by setting up or taking over and being actively involved in one or more businesses.

To be eligible, you must be able to show evidence that you have access to not less than £200,000; or access to not less than £50,000 from various financial institutions/Government Departments and that money must be disposable in the UK.

Leave will be granted for three years and four months if you applied overseas or three years if you apply in the UK. There is a possibility to apply to extend your visa under this category for a further two years if you still meet the requirements.

If you have been in the UK on a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa, the Home Office expect that after two years under this category, you will be eligible to switch into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category.

Find out more about the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category is aimed at those who are internationally recognised as world leaders or potential world leading talent or demonstrated ‘exceptional promise’ in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts who wish to work in the UK.

Applicants need to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader/emerging leader or showing 'exceptional promise' in your field (science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts).

You require endorsement from Designated Competent Body (Arts Council, Royal Academy of Engineering, British Academy, Royal Society, Tech City UK - recognised world leaders only)

Find out more about the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.

Tier 2

Tier 2 is the main route if you would like to take up employment. The lowest wage for this scheme is  £20,800 but this depends on the job and can be higher. Tier 2 is for skilled workers with a job offer. Tier 2 requires applicants to have been provided with a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) from an employer who is registered on the Tier 2 sponsor register.

Tier 2 requires you to have been awarded your degree before being able to apply (unless you are a PhD student and have completed at least one academic year of your course). You will need to provide evidence to show you meet the points requirement of eligibility under this category (details below). It is important to note that Tier 2 ties you into one job and one employer for the duration of that visas validity. Your employer will act as a sponsor and will therefore have a legal obligation to the Home Office to report on your attendance and compliance under this category.

A Tier 2 visa will be granted for up to 5 years in the first instance, with the possibility of extending to a total of 6 years.

There is a special provision under the Tier 2 General category for applicants who are currently here on a Tier 4 visa and who meet the requirements of this category. This will require applicants to meet the normal criteria for Tier 2 (as stated above) but there will be no need for employers to apply for the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). Please refer to the exemption requirements on the UKCISA website for full details. Applicants will need to be paid a minimum salary of  £20,800 or the minimum set out in the relevant code of practice (whichever is highest). There is no limit to the number of these visas that can be issued.

In order to meet the exemption you must  have completed at least 12 months of study in the UK  towards a UK PhD, or you need to have completed and passed a UK recognised  Bachelor's or Master's degree or a UK Postgraduate Certificate in  Education (PGCE) or Professional Graduate Diploma of Education (PGDE) – if you do not have your certificate, you can submit other evidence (academic transcript or reference) that must meet the requirements in the Tier 2 Policy Guidance

What must I have done in order to make an application under Tier 2 (General)?

  • Have received an employment offer that meets the Tier 2 requirements
  • Have been issued a 'Certificate of Sponsorship' (COS) by the employer
  • Show that you meet the English language level required (if you successfully complete a degree in the UK you will automatically meet this requirement)
  • Show that you meet the maintenance requirement or get confirmation from your employer that they will certify your finances on your COS. You need to have £945 in your own bank account for a 90 consecutive days in order to meet the maintenance requirement. We advise you to put this money in a seperate UK savings acount 5-6 months before you current visa expiry date.

The UK Visas and Immigration website provides detailed information on this Tier 2 and you should read the Policy Guidance carefully before making an application. Your prospective employer should also be able to provide you with assistance should you require it.

If you can't apply for Tier 2 before your Tier 4 visa expires, you can return home and apply for Tier 2 from your home country. However the student exemptions to the Resident Labour Market Test no long apply. You employer would have to meet the full Tier 2 requirements when applying outside the UK  (there are a few exceptions, for example if the job is on the Shortage Occupation list).

Full details about Tier 2  can be found on the UKCISA website and on the UKVI Tier 2 guide. AGCAS have also produced a guide for employers on Recruiting International Graduates - 2016 [PDF 86.65KB].

Tier 5

There are 2 Schemes under Tier 5:

  • The Youth Mobility Scheme allows nationals of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Taiwan, and to British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Nationals (Overseas).  If you have already spent time in the UK as a Working Holidaymaker, you can’t apply under the Youth Mobility Scheme.
  • The Temporary Worker Scheme -  the Temporary Worker scheme has 5 subcategories:
  1. government authorised exchange – this is the main category
  2. creative and sporting
  3. charity workers
  4. religious workers
  5. international agreement

Government Authorised Exchange

Tier 5 may be a useful option for someone wanting to undertake professional training that is not possible to do under Tier 2. Programmes include - work experience programmes (volunteering, job-shadowing, internships), and research and training programmes.

This Government Authorised Exchange is for applicants coming to the UK through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice through work placements, whilst experiencing the wider social and cultural setting of the UK. This category cannot be used to fill job vacancies or provide a way to bring unskilled labour to the UK.

Leave under this category is granted for a maximum of 2 years. In most cases the application must be made overseas but some allow application in the UK. You need to be sponsored by a licensed sponsor and must show evidence that you have a level of maintenance funds.

These schemes allow you to undertake specific types of work in the UK for a period of one or two years, depending on the scheme. Your Tier 5 sponsor must issue you a certificate of sponsorship before you can make an immigration application.

You will need to contact any possible Tier 5 sponsors to ask for full details of eligibility and details on how to apply for each individual scheme as each scheme has its own application process.

Tier 5 sponsors are listed together with Tier 2 sponsors on the register of sponsors. There is also a separate list of Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange sponsors. We advise you to research the schemes on this list and contact any that might be relevant to you. It is a good idea to do this as early as possible so you can plan your application and finances.

  • Contact the Tier 5 sponsor to ask for full details and find out how to apply
  • You need to find your own Internship or opportunity
  • Research details of GAE schemes
  • UKVI guidance on the Tier 5 GAE schemes


Youth Mobility Scheme

This is aimed at those applicants who are more than 18 years old but less than 30 years old at the time of applying, to enable them to come to the UK to work for 2 years. It is only possible to apply under this scheme from overseas and it is only open to nationals of the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Monaco
  • Taiwan
  • South Korea
  • Hong Kong Special Administration Region
  • British overseas citizen
  • British overseas territories citizen
  • British national (overseas)

In order to meet the financial requirements of the Youth Mobility Scheme you must have £1,890 in your account on the date of application.

You can work in the UK for up to two years. You can be self-employed but some restrictions apply, for further details please go to the link below.

Full details of Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme

Careers and Employability Centre (CEC)

The Careers and Employability Centre (CEC) can help you if you are looking for part-time and vacation work while studying at Sussex and if you are looking for a job after you complete your studies. You can access part-time jobs, work experience, professional placements and graduate vacancies via the CEC website at

CEC do not operate like an employment agency (and cannot place you in a job) but there is a lot of support on offer to enable you to be effective in your job search in the UK. Alongside the International Student Support office, the Careers and Employability Centre will help you to make sense of the regulations about working in the UK during and after your studies. They provide advice and guidance on the employment-selection process, particularly how to present yourself effectively to employers during the application and interview stages.

Finding part-time work in Brighton can be competitive and it may take you some time to find work; you therefore need to be flexible about what you are willing to do. Brighton attracts lots of visitors, and many jobs are in tourism; there is also a large creative and digital media sector. CEC advertise jobs on campus, however most jobs will be in Brighton or the local area. Careers and Employability Advisers are available daily for one-to-one discussions, or you can talk to the friendly information staff.

The Careers & Employability Centre can help you to:

  • Explore career options
  • Build your skills
  • Develop your employability
  • Gain the experience employers look for

Working with many employers, we organise fairs, careers and skill workshops, advertise work experience and part-time jobs (whilst you are a student) and graduate jobs, further study/training opportunities

When am I allowed to work full-time?

Tier 4 visa holders are not able to:

  • be self-employed or engage in business activity
  • be employed as a professional sportsperson or sports coach
  • be employed as an entertainer
  • take a permanent full-time job
  • work during any period of overstay

UG and PG taught students should also note that you should not work if you withdraw from your studies, either temporarily or permanently. This is because your permission to work depends on your following a course of study that has work rights attached to it. This is confirmed in the Home Office guidance for employers on page 27. Students who leave their course early need to be aware that once they are no longer studying a course they are not entitled to work, regardless of when their permission to be in the UK ends.

You can work unrestricted hours when you have completed your studies and you still have current immigration permission – the date on which your studies end is decided by the University and you should not work full-time before that date.

Undergraduate students

You will complete your studies at the end of the summer term of your final year, this academic year this is 14th June 2019. Tier 4 visa holders who are undergraduate students in their final year can work unrestricted from 15th June 2019.

Undergraduate students can request a letter for their employer from their School Office or provide a print out of the University term- dates .


Postgraduate Masters 

You will complete your studies on the course end date stated on your CAS, this academic year this is 30th September 2019. So unrestricted working hours for Masters student's start from 1st October 2019. 

If you are required to have a resit or extend your dissertation deadline you can work unrestricted hours from the course end date stated on your CAS, so in most cases 30th September.

In the academic year 2017/18 unrestricted working hours for Masters student's started from 1st October 2018.

Postgraduate Masters students should contact the Student Systems and Records Office  to request a letter for your employer please email


PhD students

 PhD students with a Tier 4 visa are not allowed to exceed 20 hours a week while you are studying.

The exceptions are:

 - during periods of approved annual leave PhD students can work more than 20 hours (please see the procedure for annual leave here

Once the viva takes place:

• If you pass unconditionally, you have no further study commitments. You are permitted to work over the 20 hours per week permitted and you can carry on working until your visa expires, or you leave the UK for any reason (there may be complications re-entering the UK on your Tier 4 visa after your studies have ended); 

• If you have corrections, you are not permitted to work over the 20 hours per week permitted until the corrections are submitted, normally within 6 months. After corrections have been submitted you can work over 20 hours until your visa expires, or you leave the UK for any reason (there may be complications re-entering the UK on your Tier 4 visa after your studies have ended);

• If you are required to revise and resubmit your thesis, you will be registered for another year and you must not work over the 20 hours per week permitted until you have resubmitted your thesis and the Research Student Administration Office have confirmed that you have no further academic commitments.  In some cases a second viva will be necessary, and you should then follow the advice above for passing unconditionally or corrections.

PhD students can contact the Research Student Administration Office to request a work letter for your employer,

For further advice about working and your visa please contact an International Student Adviser by email . If you inform us of a breach of your visa conditions we are obliged as a Tier 4 Sponsor to let UKVI know of the breach.


I have completed my studies, can I leave the UK then return before my visa expires and switch into another category?

If you leave the UK once your course end date has passed, it is highly likely that you will be refused entry to the UK should you attempt to re-enter on your current visa.

This is because your Tier 4 visa was issued for study. As your course of study is now complete, study is no longer the main purpose for your stay in the UK. Therefore there is a strong possibility that you will not be permitted to return to the UK once your course end date has passed.

Please bear this in mind when thinking about leaving the UK after your studies, as some working visa categories require applications to be made from within the UK, and some categories offer concessions for those applicants who are making their visa application from within the UK.

Even though you may have existing leave on your visa, once you exit the UK after your course end date has passed, you should not attempt to re-enter on that visa.

How do I answer the question on a job application about whether I have immigration permission which allows me to work in the UK?

A lot of job applications ask the question 'Do you have permission to work in the UK?' As a student in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, it is clear that you will need to switch to a different visa category in order to take a permanent full-time position and so you cannot simply answer yes to this question. We would therefore advise that you make direct contact with the employer to inform them you would like to make an application and to explain your immigration status in the UK. You can inform them that you would be eligible to make an application to switch into a work category (i.e. Tier 2) if they were in a position to sponsor you. You are advised to check whether an employer is on the register of Tier 2 and Tier 5 Sponsors if you require an employer to sponsor you.

International Student Support

T +44 (0)1273 67 8422