Working in the UK after your studies

Many students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) would like to secure employment in the UK after graduation. There are currently a number of immigration routes that may be applicable to some of our non-EEA graduates.  They are:


Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if you’ve been endorsed in your field of the arts as:

  • a recognised leader (exceptional talent)
  • an emerging leader (exceptional promise)

You must also be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. For more information please see the Home Office website.


Tier 2 (General)

In order to apply under Tier 2 (General), you must meet all the following requirements:

  • your employer must have a Tier 2 sponsor licence
  • your job must have a particular skills level
  • there is a minimum wage level of £20,800 though this depends on the job and can be higher
  • usually, the job must have been advertised as required by the Home Office, but most Tier 4 students who have graduated recently are exempt from this advertising requirement also know as the resident labour market test
  • you have to prove that you have English language skills, which you meet if you have a UK degree, and meet maintenance requirements
  • if you want to, or must apply outside the UK, or if you apply in the UK and you have immigration permission as a Tier 4 partner, your job must score a minimum number of points.
  • if you want to make your immigration application in the UK, you must meet certain additional requirements.

For further information, read the Tier 2 Policy Guidance.


Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES)

If you are studying for a doctorate, the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) might be of interest to you. The scheme allows you to spend one year working in the UK after you have completed your doctorate.  You can be employed or self-employed.

As a RCS student studying towards a PhD you will receive your award from the University of St Andrews.  As a result you will need to be apply for the DES with a CAS that has been issued by the University of St Andrews.  You must apply for the scheme within the sixty day period before you finish your doctorate.  For further information on how to apply please go to https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/students/advice/visa-information/doctorate-extension-scheme/

Working after your Studies – UKCISA

Start-Up Scheme

The Start-up scheme is for those who wish to start a business in the UK, and who have a business plan endorsed by a Home Office-approved endorsing body. It replaced Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur but has a broader remit than the Graduate Entrepreneur scheme.

Innovator Scheme

The Innovator scheme is for people who have access to £50,000 to invest in their business idea, and an endorsement from an authorised body. This route has replaced Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) for most new applicants.


If your chosen immigration route permits self-employment and you’re interested in starting your own business you might want to look at  HM Revenue and Customs’ free e-learning course which has information about UK tax, national insurance, business records and expenses.

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