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UK Visas | Oxford University Careers Service UK Visas | Oxford University Careers Service
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General information

If you are thinking about staying in the UK after your studies to work, you will need to apply for a visa unless you are an EEA or Swiss national.

The rules about working in the UK are complex and change frequently. This is a brief guide to some of the options, but for full and up-to-date information, follow the web-links at the end of the page.

The Points Based System for immigration consists of different tiers (categories) of visas which allow people from outside the EEA/EU to work or study in the UK.

Working in the UK while a student

Depending on your status, it is possible to work in the UK whilst you are studying, and there are routes to work in the UK upon completion of your Oxford degree.


Tier 2 visas

Under Tier 2, licensed employers can sponsor applicants for a specific graduate-level job. There are special arrangements for applying in the UK for a Tier 2 visa for recent graduates, and DPhil students who have completed at least a year of their course. To qualify under this scheme you must have a suitable job offer from a licensed sponsor, have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship, and meet financial and language requirements. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides useful information about applying under Tier 2.

You can check whether an employer is a Tier 2 licensed sponsor by looking at the Home Office’s register. You will need to discuss with a prospective employer whether they are willing and able to sponsor you. The salary offered must be both at the appropriate level for the job and a minimum of £20,500. If you apply under the special arrangements for students, your employer is exempt from undertaking a Resident Labour Market Test.

It is also possible to apply under Tier 2 later from outside the UK, but this is more restrictive for both you and the employer.

Tier 4 - Doctorate extension

Tier 4 (Doctorate Extension) allows DPhil students nearing the end of their studies to stay in the UK for one year afterwards – to seek and take work, or to be self-employed. You must be sponsored by the University and apply in the UK before you officially complete your studies. See the University’s ‘After Your Studies’ webpage for further advice.

Tier 1 - Graduate Entrepreneur Visa endorsement

The University of Oxford may endorse up to thirty graduates annually who have ‘genuine and credible business ideas and entrepreneurial skills, to extend their stay in the UK after graduation to establish one or more businesses in the UK.’ The endorsement process is conducted by the Careers Service and is separate from the visa application, which is the second stage of the process and is administered by the Student Immigration team.

Successful endorsement applicants can apply for a visa for one year to develop their business idea.  Visa holders can then apply for one further year to remain in the UK by being re-endorsed. Proof of satisfactory progression within the business is one of the requirements to be considered for a second endorsement. Additional employment is allowed for up to 20 hours a week to supplement income whilst the business is in development. The applicant’s dependent partner and children can also apply to remain in the UK.

The University of Oxford Careers Service invites students, graduates and post-doctoral researchers who wish to stay in the UK to develop their business ideas and who meet the eligibility criteria to apply for University endorsement. We are keen to support entrepreneurial activity at all levels and encourage all graduating students from any discipline and with any sort of business idea to apply. Previously endorsed businesses include:

  • Social enterprises and not-for-profits
  • Technology start-ups
  • Funding generation and investment organisations
  • Digital education tools
  • Energy research

Applications for endorsement are invited four times a year (once in each term and one in the long vacation). For dates of the current call for applications, please see CareerConnect or our blog, or email us.

Who is eligible?

  • Applicants must be non-EEA nationals who have received, or will receive, their degree from the University of Oxford. They must also:
    • Have a genuine, credible and innovative business idea
    • not currently be on a Post Study Work visa
    • Fulfil an English language requirement (automatically qualification by completing a degree taught in English at Oxford or another UK university)
  • Postdoctoral researchers currently working for the University on a Tier 2 (General) Migrant visa and who have graduated from a UK Higher Education Institution are also eligible to apply.

How to apply

Applicants must apply through CareerConnect. If you do not yet have an account on CareerConnect, please register first. Endorsement is a competitive process and applicants will be required to show evidence that they have a genuine, credible and innovative business idea. Required documents include:

    • CV
    • Cover letter
    • A description of the business and business plan
    • A description of the status of the venture. This document should describe your rationale for building the business in the UK (as opposed to elsewhere) and an overview of what you imagine the venture doing/being in two years, including 5 key milestones along the way.

A termly call for applications (and one during the long vacation) will be announced on our blog. More detailed information about applying and required application documents will then be available on CareerConnect.

Further information

For information on the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa application process (post endorsement) and eligibility please visit the UKVI website:

Other options

There are other routes available for working in the UK. Nationals aged under 31 of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea or Taiwan and non-citizen British nationals might be eligible to apply under the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) for a two year visa to experience life in the UK, including taking employment. Visas are issued under a quota system, and you have to apply from your home country.

If you are a Commonwealth citizen with a grandparent born in the UK, you may be able to apply from your home country for a visa for five years to look for a job and work, on the basis of UK ancestry.

Our resources

Regrettably, Careers Advisers cannot offer advice to students about their visa options beyond the information on this page.

We do, however, host regular talks at the Careers Service delivered by the Student Information and Advisory Service – for international students wanting to find out more about their visa options.

External resources
This information was last updated on 16 September 2015.
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Recent blogs about UK Visas

Share your opinion… and win £40!

Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on November 27, 2015.

Feedback helps us to improve the tools and services that we offer you at The Careers Service and we’d be very interested to hear what you think about our new look Oxford Guide to Careers 2016.

Take the Oxford Guide to Careers Survey now.

It will only take a few minutes to complete our short survey asking you to tell us what you like best and what doesn’t work for you in this year’s Guide.

Your Chance to Win

As you complete the survey you will have the chance to enter our prize draw for a £40 voucher to spend online: the draw will take place at the start of Hilary Term.

You can access the survey until 18th January 2016.

Copies of The Oxford Guide to Careers can be collected from The Careers Service at 56 Banbury Road.

Chinese graduate 12-month internship programme

Blogged by Julia Hilton on November 4, 2015.

In April 2014, UKVI approved the introduction of the International Student Internship Scheme as part of the Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) route of the Points Based System, with further endorsements from UKTI and BIS.

For successful applicants, the Scheme will allow Chinese graduates to take part in internships for a maximum of 12 months after their studies.

The internship scheme will offer sponsorship of a Tier 5 visa for work placements with businesses in the UK who are looking to expand their presence in China. For more information visit the UK International Students Internship Scheme website.

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