Working after your studies

There are several opportunities for international students graduating from a UK university to work in the UK under the following categories:

Tier 1: (Graduate Entrepreneur)

Tier 2:  (General)

Tier 4:  (Doctorate Extension Scheme)

Tier 5:  (Temporary worker Government Authorised Exchange)

The International Student Support Team can advise you on Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Tier 4 (Doctorate Extension Scheme) visa applications.

For more information about Tier 2 (General) and Tier 5 (Temporary worker Government Authorised Exchange) visa applications please visit the Home Office web pages directly.

You can also visit UKCISA web pages for more information about available working visas.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa

Please see here for University of Surrey’s Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa Policy.

The University runs a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa scheme in conjunction with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The scheme provides graduate entrepreneurs that have a genuine and credible business the opportunity to develop their venture in the UK for a maximum period of two years.

Current international (non EEA) University of Surrey students in their final year of study and UK graduates of up to two years who are subject to immigration control can apply for this visa.

For 2018/19 there are two application intakes:

Application Intake 1

Application Deadline: Friday 8th June, 17.00

Pitching Panel Date: Friday 22nd June

Endorsement Result: Friday 29th June

Application Intake 2

Application Deadline: Friday 9th November, 17.00

Pitching Panel Date: Tuesday 27th November

Endorsement Result: Friday 30th November 

To apply for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa email Student Enterprise:

You will need to have successfully passed Student Enterprise’s Endorsement Process before you can apply to UKVI.

More information on the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa can be found here.

Please also read the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa leaflet and watch the video if you are planning on applying.


Doctorate extension scheme (Tier 4 DES)

Please see here for the University of Surrey’s Doctorate Extension Scheme Policy and Doctorate Extension Scheme Information chart.

This scheme is designed to give students who have almost finished their UK PhD or other doctorate qualification an additional 12 months of Tier 4 (General) immigration permission in which to look for and start work in the UK. Information about this scheme is available on the UKVI website.

You must express interest in DES by the end of year 3 of your studies by completing the “Expression of Interest” form available online and from Student Services Centre reception desk The completed form needs to be returned to the International Student Support team. You will also need to submit your soft bound thesis well before month 48 and ideally by the 40th month of your registration. This is because you need to ensure that your Tier 4 General visa covers your VIVA voce examination and all required corrections or revisions following the examination.

You will also need to contact the Research Degrees Office after your VIVA voce examination to confirm the deadline for any post-viva revisions or corrections and, based on this deadline, the likely date of your award.

Please note that this  however does not guarantee that you will be eligible for DES unless you meet other requirements listed below.

DES Application requirements

• You must currently be enrolled as a PhD student ( however the registration period may have expired) 
• You must have current Tier 4 immigration permission
• You can only apply in the UK, not in your home country
• You must make DES application within 60 days prior receiving your award
• You must apply before you are awarded your doctoral degree 
• You must satisfy the maintenance requirements: £2,030 in your bank account for 28 days and a bank statement showing this amount according to the UKVI criteria for Tier 4 (see below)
• If you have been financially supported by a government or international scholarship agency within 12 months of making this visa application, you must provide written consent from your sponsor allowing this application
• You must provide an up to date Police Registration Certificate ( if applicable)
• You must have all your tuition fees paid to date in order to receive a CAS.

If a current student has expressed an interest for DES before September 2018, they are still eligible to apply despite their extended tier 4 leave.

Getting a Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

Once you have received confirmation that you may upload the final copy of your thesis, International Student Support will assign a Tier 4 General CAS to you. 

In order to request a CAS you need to provide following documents to the International Student Support Office:

- Confirmation that you may upload the final, electronic version of your thesis and a confirmation of your award date (this should be an email confirmation sent to you by the Research Degrees Office)

- A bank statement that shows the required amount of money

- Your valid passport

- A signed Doctorate Extension Scheme agreement form.

Please note that the University has got a right to withdraw a CAS at any stage, if we believe that applicants don’t meet the Home Office requirements.

Making a Tier 4 DES application

The application process is very similar to the Tier 4 (General) Student visa.  It is made online and is described on our website.

You must make a valid application before your current immigration permission expires. You will require the following documents:

• Current passport or travel document (and any expired passports you have used to travel to the UK with)
• Bank statement/document showing required maintenance of £2,030 kept in your account for 28 days
• Two passport-sized photographs (taken in the UK and within one month of your application) of yourself and any dependants (with names written on the back). Photograph guidance is available from the UKVI.
• A valid an updated Police Registration Certificate ( if applicable)
• Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee - IHS will be charged at £150 per academic year of study, please visit this link for further details: UKVI website.

Check that you have completed the online application correctly but do not proceed to the payment section as your form cannot be checked by an advisor after this point. You should make an appointment at the Student Services Centre to speak to a member of the ISS team who will help you to make the application.


An application for the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme is charged at the same rate as a standard Tier 4 application.

If you fail to meet any of these requirements, your application will be rejected as invalid or refused. If this happens after your Tier 4 leave has expired, you will no longer have current Tier 4 leave. This means you will not be able to apply at all under this scheme.

If you are unsuccessful and not awarded a full PhD, the University will have to notify the UKVI and cancel the CAS.

Once your visa has been granted

You will be granted a Tier 4 visa for a period of 12 months from the expected end date on your CAS. Once you have sent off a valid Tier 4 application and received confirmation of your award, you can start to work at any level, including being self-employed. The only restrictions are that you cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sports-person (including coaches).

If you wish to stay longer in the UK for work after the end of this DES visa, you have several options open to you. For full information on these opportunities, please visit the UKCISA website.  

You can start working without student restrictions as soon as you have been awarded your PhD. You can work anywhere in the UK as long as you keep in touch with the University and respond to our three email contacts within 10 calendar days of receiving the email.  If we do not receive a response straight away, we will also try to call and write to you, as a reminder. Failure to respond to the contact email will result in CAS withdrawal.

If you will not be able to make an appointment or other contact that your Tier 4 sponsor has arranged with you, it is very important that you contact your Tier 4 sponsor to let them know. If you miss a scheduled contact without providing an explanation, we will be obliged to report this to the Home Office and your immigration permission may then be curtailed. You should also let us know if you plan to leave the UK for good during this year or if you are granted immigration permission under a different category.

Tier 4 leave does not on its own lead to settlement in the UK, unless you meet the requirements for settlement under the long residence rule. This requires 10 years of continuous lawful residence in the UK with any type of immigration permission. If you consider an application for a residency you would be advised to contact a lawyer.


You can make a Tier 4 DES application with dependants if they are already with you in the UK.  They can also join you from overseas by making a (PBS Dependant) application from overseas.

Each dependant will require £1,360 and the amount needs to be kept in the account for 28 days before the date of the application.

Tier 2 (General)

There are opportunities for recent graduates to stay in the UK to work under the Tier 2 (General) category.

If you get an offer of employment whilst you are still in the UK on a current valid Tier 4 student visa, employers will not need to have advertised under the Resident Labour Market Test and there will be no quota restrictions. All other conditions for Tier 2 apply.

Graduates will need to meet following criteria:

• must have valid leave to study in the UK when you make the Tier 2 application

• must have “been awarded” your degree.  The award letter for University of Surrey degrees will be issued by the faculty –

• must have minimum of £945 in a bank account for a period of 90 days, ending no more than one month before application

• must have permission from previous official financial sponsor if applicable (not PBS sponsor) if you were sponsored during your degree programme

• If you are unable to apply before the expiry of your student visa, you will need to apply from outside the UK under normal Tier 2 rules

For further detail on Tier 2 please visit UKCISA's website.

Visit our Careers Service for more information about employment and careers advice.


Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange)

You can apply for this visa from outside the UK if you’re aged 18 to 30 and you’re from:

Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea or Taiwan.

Candidates applying for the scheme within the UK must have a current valid Tier 4 visa

Successful students can take jobs at an NVQ level 3 and above

There is no limit on the salary and the conditions of employment must be in line with the National Minimum Wage

The internship offered must be a full time placement

The Employer must on the UKVI Tier 5 register

How can I apply?

The University cannot assist with the Tier 5 application process.  However, the application is made on a paper form and costs £230. Applicants will need to have maintained a balance of at least £945 for a period of 90 days before application.  Each sponsor will be able to advise on their particular scheme and any costs and specific processes required.

Here are a couple of general schemes relevant to international students:

AIESEC UK open to students of all nationalities

ISIS open to Mandarin speakers primarily

You can also find more information about Tier 5 on the Home Office Website