UK Visas | The Careers Service UK Visas – Oxford University Careers Service
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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
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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 at least £20,800 per annum, whichever is higher. 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 Scheme
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The Tier 4 visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme 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.

Start-up Visa endorsement
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The University of Oxford endorses applicants whose business proposals demonstrate innovation, viability, and scalability. The endorsement process is run by the Careers Service. It 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 two years to develop their business idea. Proof of satisfactory progression within the business is required to keep an endorsement. Additional employment is allowed to supplement income whilst the business is in development. The applicant’s dependent partner and any children can also apply to come to or remain in the UK.

The University of Oxford Careers Service invites all those 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, from any discipline, and with any sort of business idea. 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. For dates of the current call for applications, please see CareerConnect or our blog, or email us.

Who is eligible?

  1. Applicants must be non-EEA nationals.
  2. Meet one of the following requirements:
    • Have received, or will receive, their degree from the University of Oxford.
    • Are working at Oxford as a postgraduate with a Tier 2 visa.
    • Are working at the University as research staff.
  3. They must also:
    • have a business plan that demonstrates innovation, viability, and scalability.
    • not have previously been granted a Post Study Work visa
    • not have previously established a business in the UK
    • fulfil an English language requirement (automatically qualified by completing a degree taught in English at Oxford or another UK university; applicants who have not completed a degree taught in English will need to provide other formal proof)

Information for existing visa holders

Be aware that Tier 4 and Tier 2 visa conditions do not allow holders of said visas to be self employed or engage in business. Be careful whilst working on any business idea for a Start-up visa endorsement application to avoid breaching the conditions of an existing visa.

How to apply

Applicants must apply by email to startup.visa@careers.ox.ac.uk. Endorsement is a competitive process and applicants will be required to show evidence that they have a innovative, scalable and viable idea.

Application Template

1. Business Plan and Summary Information

You can download the application template by clicking here.  Please pay attention to the maximum number of pages allowed for each part, any pages in excess of these limits will not be reviewed. 

2. CV

A termly call for applications will be announced on our blog.  All applications should be submitted as a single PDF.

If we receive too many applications for one round, we may ask those applicants whose current visas are not in danger of expiring to resubmit for the following round of applications.

What should you bear in mind when making an application?

When writing your application, it is worth bearing in mind that the panel will be looking for evidence that you have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea, specifically:

  • Innovative: a genuinely new idea, perhaps based on a combination of existing technology and a new market. For example, proposing to expand an existing business currently based in another country into an established UK market would not meet this criterion.
  • Viable: how sustainable is the business? Will it rely purely on the goodwill of your friends, or will your funding be crowdsourced? How will it reach the relevant financial thresholds within 2 years so that you can transition to another visa?
  • Scalable: attractive business ideas will employ people (and pay taxes!). Proposals for single person tutoring businesses are not necessarily scalable and would be rejected.

The panel will also want to understand why your business will benefit from being based in the UK and the potential reward for local and/or national economy to having said business based here. Some of the criteria the panel look for in an application include those listed below. It is beneficial to provide evidence you meet as many of these as possible.

  • Minimum UK Home Office criteria to apply for Start- up visa
  • Personal commitment to the business
  • Support from the university and elsewhere
  • Previous relevant experience
  • Innovative, viable, and scalable idea
  • Ownership, or co-ownership, of said idea
  • Feedback from current or potential users
  • Financing – actual and/or promised
  • Contracts and/or agreements in place
  • Formalising of the business
  • Realistic business plan
  • Realistic and useful performance measures

If your application is unsuccessful

We aim to provide feedback for each applicant that is invited to attend an interview and all applicants are welcome to apply again.

If you feel that your application was not judged fairly or was assessed using criteria not clearly stated in the guidelines you can request a review of the decision.  This review will assess whether the decision was made based on our own published criteria as well as the guidance from the Home Office.

There is no limit to the number of times you can reapply for endorsement however, any new application must be materially different from an application submitted previously in order to be considered.

Further information

For information on the Start-up visa application process (post endorsement) and eligibility please visit the UKVI website:

If you would like to receive email updates on upcoming deadlines as well as information sessions you can sign up to our Start-up Visa mailing list.

Other options
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Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa

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. More information can be found on the UK government website.

Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange visa

You may be able to remain in the UK after completing a degree for an internship. The intern needs to be sponsored through a scheme for the placement. A separate organisation normally acts as sponsor for the employer’s internship programme. For information, visit the UKVI website.

UK Ancestry Visa

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. See the UKVI website: UK Ancestry visa for more information.

Our resources
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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
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Post-Brexit visa information
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Although the Careers Service is not able to provide individual visa advice, there are useful resources elsewhere in the University which may help students and their situations. The Student Visa Office has sent through the very latest re any changes post 29 March, although it is obviously an ever-developing situation.

There is an EU Settlement Scheme already available and there will be eligibility changes to this if there is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. Plus, in a no-deal scenario, totally new entrants to the UK after 29 March who want to remain in the UK for more than 3 months will have to apply for ‘European Temporary Leave to Remain’ which will be valid for a further 3 years.

Here are the main sites. There are many links to further information and other websites within these pages too:

There was also a Government White Paper issued in December about plans for the immigration system post Brexit:

Information about applying for settled or pre-settled status can be found on the UK Government website.


Please note that the latest information about the possible impact of Brexit on Oxford students will be published first on the University website here.

You can download your enrolment certificate from Student self-service.

For previous completed Oxford courses you could request a degree confirmation letter.

If you have further queries, please contact:

This information was last updated on 15 January 2020.
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Recent blogs about UK Visas

China Careers Insight Week (in place of cancelled China Careers Fair at Warwick)

Blogged by Julia Hilton on 11/02/2020.

As you are aware, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office has advised against all travel to and from mainland China due to the risk of Coronavirus.  In light of this, we have made the decision to transform our Joint UK Universities China Career Fair (due to be held on 22 February 2020) into a virtual event. The event has been re-branded China Careers Insight Week and will include a number of webinars from employers in China and the UK aimed at the recruitment of Mainland China students during the week of the 17 February.

We will be sending out a newsletter with a full list of events and how to register online, vacancies as well as information on the “China Fair App” which has now been repurposed to show you an interactive online resource of employer information, webinars and more. Information on this will be sent out in the next week on how to download.

In the meantime you can register for the following webinar:

Preparing for the China Careers Insight Week

Thursday 13 Feb, 17:00 GMT. Sign up on the webinar registration page >>

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you are unable to join the webinar live we will be sending out a link of the recorded session after the event as well.

This webinar will contain sessions on:

  • Which employers are attending the China Careers Insight Week , what type of jobs are on offer and how to interpret information in job adverts such as job descriptions/person specifications
  • Defining your own career goals, aims and aspirations
  • How to review and improve your CV
  • How to introduce yourself to prospective employers in a professional way
  • How to develop your networking skills

We will keep you update on developments and which employers will be joining is but as a taster we have Hilti, P&G, EY, CPA Australia, Hays, BOE, Haier & Airbus with more still confirming.

Thank you for your patience we apologise for any inconvenience caused and hope you will enjoy the alternative digital event delivered by joint universities.

If you have any questions, please contact julia.hilton@careers.ox.ac.uk.

International Students Graduating in 2020: Staying to Work in the UK (Tier 5 route)

Blogged by Julia Hilton on 11/02/2020.

WHEN: Wednesday 26 February, 13:00-14:30
WHERE: Room 2, Exams Schools, Oxford

If you are an international student and graduate in 2020, you are likely to be aware that staying to work in the UK may be challenging unless you are sponsored. Announcements about the new Graduate route for post study work are aimed at graduates from 2021 onward. Unfortunately the Graduate route will not be open to those who have completed their studies or are due to complete them in the summer of 2020.

Given the challenges facing international students graduating this year, we have organised this unique event to explain your possible options for staying in the UK. Zenia Chopra, Client Relationship Manager within the immigration team at Kingsley Napley, and previously Access Tier 5 Manger (a Tier 5 Government Authorised visa scheme) will be delivering an overview of the Tier 5 visa route for international students. The Tier 5 Intern scheme is a Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) scheme designed specifically to allow undergraduates and graduates from overseas to gain experience working in UK industry for 12 months.

We will cover:

  • Explanation of the Tier 5 GAE visa route – what it entails
  • Eligibility criteria
  • List of the overarching bodies and differences between each of their schemes/fees –  This will include but not limited to the Tier 5 Intern scheme, Access Tier 5, BUNAC’s Intern in Britain scheme
  • Process of applying for sponsorship via an overarching body
  • Benefits for the students to use this visa route
  • Criteria for switching from Tier 4 to Tier 5 GAE

The Careers Service will include a short session on job search strategy and CV top tips. Preparing a strong application is your best chance of success in the graduate market so we’ll be covering key information about how to stand out and present yourself effectively.

At the end of the session we’ll be joined by Jo Aldhouse, an experienced Visa and Immigration Adviser from the Oxford Student Immigration Office, who will be able to answer your questions about visas more generally and staying to work in the UK. Jo regularly delivers our Staying to Work in the UK visa sessions which provide a full overview of the various routes available.

Staying in the UK to Work

Blogged by Julia Hilton on 05/02/2020.

If you are studying with a Tier 4 visa and are thinking about staying on in the UK to work, come to this talk delivered by Student Visa and Immigration Advisers to hear about your main visa options.

WHEN: Tuesday 11 February, 12:30-14:30
WHERE: The Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road

We will focus on the Tier 2 system where a licensed employer can sponsor you for a graduate level job, and the special provisions for switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2. We will also look at the Doctorate Extension Scheme for DPhil students, Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur for those with a business idea, and Tier 5 options for those interested in work experience or an internship in the UK.

Meet the University’s student Visa and Immigration Advisers who will explain the advice available from the University and stay for your individual questions after the talk.

Start-up Visa Endorsement Application – Information Session

Blogged by Brianna Thompson on 22/01/2020.

WHEN: 20 February 2020, 9:15-10:00
WHERE: The Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road
TO BOOK A PLACE at this discussion contact startup.visa@careers.ox.ac.uk with your name and the course and year(s) of study at the University of Oxford.
👍 Add the event to your Facebook calendar

This information session (with the Student Visa and Immigration Office and Endorsement Panel Chair) is an opportunity to better understand what the endorsement panel at Oxford are looking for, and the process of making your application. We strongly advise anyone thinking of making an application for endorsement to attend.

We are keen to support entrepreneurial activity at all levels and encourage people from any discipline and with any sort of business idea to apply.

More information can be found on our visas page or you can sign up to our Start-up Visa mailing list.

China Job Fairs 2020

Blogged by Julia Hilton on 21/01/2020.

With more than 1,000 Chinese students currently studying at Oxford and a significant Chinese alumni group, the Oxford Careers Service is committed to supporting Chinese students and alumni with their job search. We know that navigating the job market in China alongside studying in the UK is extremely challenging. Whilst we see many Chinese students keen to stay to work in the UK, we are fully aware of the need to identify opportunities back in China too. For these reasons we are offering a series of China Careers events in 2020 exclusively for Chinese students, research staff and alumni to attend. The Careers Service is working closely with the Oxford University Chinese Students and Scholars Association and the Oxford University Chinese Society to raise awareness of these China focused events. We are grateful to both groups for their support and hard work.

Warwick China Fair 2020

WHEN: Saturday 22 February, 10:00-15:00
WHERE: Oculus building, University of Warwick

BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW >>

Organised by Warwick, plus partner Universities (including Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Bristol, Bath, Oxford, Lancaster and Aston Universities), it will enable you to meet both UK and China recruiters with graduate roles in China.

The event includes a panel presentation about the current Chinese job market; a session on visas; plus a series of employer presentations.

Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong Careers Fairs 2020

Organised by the London School of Economics (LSE) in collaboration with partner institutions (University of Oxford, Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, Columbia University and University of Chicago) to bring you Careers Fairs in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong in August 2020. Full details will be updated on our China Careers pages as soon as we have them later this spring.

If you are fluent in Mandarin and would like to gain some social media marketing experience, we are also offering a China Fairs 2020 Marketing Assistant micro-internship at the Careers Service at the end of Hilary term. To find out more and apply visit CareerConnnect.

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