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UK Visas | The 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 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

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

The University of Oxford may endorse up to thirty applicants annually 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.
    • For all non-graduates or those without any association with the University of Oxford, intend to establish their business in Oxfordshire.
  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 brianna.thompson@careers.ox.ac.uk. 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:

Summary Information

1. Summary Information

You can download the form by clicking here.

2. CV

3. Business Plan

A description of your business and progress to date. Applications will be judged on the following selection criteria:

  • This is a genuine, credible and innovative business idea
  • You can demonstrate ownership, or co-ownership, of the idea
  • A short business plan that includes an assessment of market, competition, customers, service/product, and financial outlook (P&L).
  • Realistic and useful measures for assessing performance after 1 year
  • Evidence of progress to date that demonstrates a real commitment to getting the business started, including for example:
    • Feedback from current or potential users/customers
    • Financing – actual and/or promised
    • Contract
    • Formalising of the business—eg, incorporation/registration, website, domain names, offices

A termly call for applications will be announced on our blog.  All applications should be submitted as a single PDF, no longer than 35 pages in total.

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.

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

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

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
Post-Brexit visa information

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 16 May 2019.
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Recent blogs about UK Visas

Start-up Visa Endorsement Application – Information Session

Blogged by Brianna Thompson on 29/04/2019.

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.

  • When: 5 June 2019, from 9:15-10:00
  • Where: The Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road
  • TO BOOK A PLACE at this discussion contact brianna.thompson@careers.ox.ac.uk with your name and, if applicable, the course and year(s) of study at the University of Oxford.

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.

Start-up Visa Endorsement – apply now!

Blogged by Brianna Thompson on 16/04/2019.

All applications must be emailed to brianna.thompson@careers.ox.ac.uk by Friday 14 June at 12 noon.

If you have an idea for a business, have a venture currently in development, or are piloting a new concept, you may be eligible to apply for our endorsement under the Start-up Visa scheme, which allows non-EEA nationals to reside in the UK in order to develop their business.

Previously endorsed businesses have included:

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

The University of Oxford can endorse up to thirty applicants per year. Calls for applications are held four times a year. The next deadline for applications is Friday 14 June at 12 noon. Applications are now open, and you can apply by email to brianna.thompson@careers.ox.ac.uk

You can find more information and details of how to apply on our visas information page or on CareerConnect. Alternatively, you can sign up to our Start-up Visa mailing list.

Interviews for shortlisted applicants will take place on Tuesday 25 June at the Careers Service (date and location are subject to change).

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa Endorsement Application – Information Session

Blogged by Brianna Thompson on 03/01/2019.

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.

  • When: 28 February 2019, from 9:15-10:00
  • Where: Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road
  • TO BOOK A PLACE at this discussion contact reception@careers.ox.ac.uk with your name, course and year(s) of study.

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.

More information can be found here.

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa Endorsement – apply now!

Blogged by Brianna Thompson on 03/01/2019.

All applications must be emailed to directorsea@careers.ox.ac.uk by Friday 8 March at 12 noon.

If you have an idea for a business, have a venture currently in development, or are piloting a new concept, you may be eligible to apply for our endorsement under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa scheme, which allows non-EEA nationals who are graduates or post-doctoral researchers to reside in the UK in order to develop their business.

Previously endorsed businesses have included:

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

The University of Oxford can endorse up to thirty applicants per year. Calls for applications are held four times a year: once in each term, and once during the Long Vacation. The next deadline for applications is Friday 8 March at 12 noon. Applications are now open, and you can apply by email to directorsea@careers.ox.ac.uk

You can find more information and details of how to apply on our visas information page or on CareerConnect. Alternatively, you can email directorsea@careers.ox.ac.uk.

Interviews for shortlisted applicants will take place on Tuesday 19 March at the Careers Service (date and location are subject to change).

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa Endorsement – apply now!

Blogged by Debra Popperwell on 07/11/2018.

All applications must be sent by Monday 3 December at 12 noon.

If you have an idea for a business, have a venture currently in development, or are piloting a new concept, you may be eligible to apply for our endorsement under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa scheme, which allows non-EEA nationals who are graduates or post-doctoral researchers to reside in the UK in order to develop their business.

Previously endorsed businesses have included:

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

The University of Oxford can endorse up to thirty applicants per year. Calls for applications are held four times a year: once in each term, and once during the Long Vacation. The next deadline for applications is Monday 3 December at 12 noon.

You can find more information and details of how to apply on our visa page or on CareerConnect.

Interviews for shortlisted applicants will take place on Thursday 13 December at Careers Service (date and location are subject to change).

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