Students Staff

Working in the UK after your studies

It may be possible for you to stay on in the UK for practical training or work experience or for full-time employment depending on your circumstances. Read the UKCISA Information and guidance on all current schemes and contact their student advice line if you have any questions.

As an Essex Graduate or student the schemes mentioned below may be of interest to you.

  • Graduate route – Essex students graduating from the summer of 2021

    The scheme is not available to apply to at the current time and the Immigration Rules have not been published so no further guidance is available other than stated below.

    The Home Office have today, 4 March 2021, updated their information about the Graduate route online and published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules.

    You will not need to be sponsored by an employer or by the University, but your degree must be awarded by a Higher Education provider that is listed on the Register of Student Sponsors as a "Student Sponsor - Track Record". Eligible qualifications awarded by the University of Essex will qualify for the scheme. The University will be required to let the Home Office know who has successfully completed an eligible course before you can make a Graduate route application. However, we do not yet know how we will be expected to do this and can't offer tailored advice or guidance at this time.

    Here’s what we understand so far:

    The route is for students with a Tier 4 or Student route visa who will complete an eligible degree. For those who have completed a course lasting 12 months or less, the whole of the course must have been studied in the UK. Those on courses lasting longer than 12 months will need to have been granted student immigration permission for at least 12 months and have spent that time studying in the UK. However, there are concessions for students who have been distance learning outside the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21, details below.

    • The Graduate route will be launched on 1 July 2021.
    • Undergraduate and master's degree students will be able to apply to stay for two years.
    • PhD students will be able to apply to stay for three years.
    • If you change your course to one that is a different level or longer than your original course, you may not be eligible to apply.
    • There will not be a requirement to show you have a certain amount of money (known as the 'maintenance requirement').
    • A dependent who is already in the UK as your dependent can apply as your Graduate route dependent. Dependants who are not already in the UK with a dependent visa will not be able to apply, except where a dependent child was born in the UK during a period of Student or Graduate permission.
    • Study will be permitted, provided that it is not study with a student sponsor on a course that would meet the requirements of the Student route.
    • Successful applicants will be permitted to work full time at any skill level.
    • The Graduate route does not count towards settlement.
    • Those whose Tier 4 or Student visa expires before 1 July 2021 will not be eligible to apply.
    • Those who have had Tier 4 (DES) will not be able to apply to stay longer under the Graduate route.
    • Those who have been granted Exceptional Assurance to stay in the UK after their visa expired due to Covid-19 will not be eligible to apply.
    • If you finished your course early and your visa was or should have been curtailed to expire prior to 1 July 2021, you will not be eligible to apply.
    • It will not be possible to apply for further permission under the Graduate route. A Graduate may switch into a relevant skilled work route if suitable employment is found and the requirements of the route are met.

    Read the UKCISA guidance about the Graduate route for more information and watch their recent student webinar which is available to view online for a limited period. Please be aware that although the webinar suggests you to contact your institutions international advisers for further guidance, we aren’t in a position to give any additional information at this time and will send out more information about our processes on this page once we know more about the Home Office expectations.

    Concessions - if you have studied remotely overseas (distance learner) in the 2020-21 academic year

    If you are or have studied outside the UK through distance learning because of Covid-19 in 2020/2021, the Home Office have specified when you must be inside the UK studying to qualify for the Graduate route, this depends on your course length and when it began. Read the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Student sponsors, migrants and short-term students guidance for more information. The following is taken from the concessions updated on 4 March 2021:

    • If you began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 via distance learning, and have not previously entered the UK to study that course you will be able to make a Graduate application if you are granted a Student visa and arrive in the UK on or before 21 June 2021 and complete your course in the UK.
    • If you began a course of 12 months or less in 2021 via distance learning and have not previously entered the UK to study that course you will be able to make a Graduate application if you are granted a Student visa and arrive in the UK on or before 27 September 2021 and complete your course in the UK.
    • If you began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 and have existing permission as a Student (Tier 4 or Student route) to study that course, and have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, you will be able to make a Graduate application provided you are present in the UK before the course end date stated on the CAS you used to make your visa application.
    • If you are sponsored for a course lasting longer than 12 months the Graduate route residency requirements state that you must have spent at least 12 months of the course studying inside the UK with valid student immigration permission. In addition, the COVID concessions state that you will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate route as a result of any distance learning that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021. You will need to be back in the UK before your Tier 4/Student visa expires to make your Graduate route application.

    Students who would normally only be sponsored to study in the UK on the Student route for the last year of a longer course, such as those on articulated degree programmes, will be considered as being on a course of 12 months or less for the purpose of this requirement.

    • Tier 4 (DES) - for Essex PhD students nearing completion

      This scheme is designed to give Tier 4 students who have almost finished their UK PhD or other doctorate qualification, an additional 12 months of Tier 4 (General) immigration permission to remain in the UK. Our University is participating in this scheme so, if you haven’t yet completed your University of Essex PhD and have a valid Tier 4 (General) visa, read the details in our Tier 4 (DES) web page to find out more.

      This scheme will be removed when the new Graduate route comes into force.

    • Essex Start-up scheme - for recent Essex Graduates and final year students

      The Start-up scheme is for those wishing to remain in the UK for 2 years to set up a new UK business which is innovative, viable and scalable. The University of Essex is an authorised Start-up endorsing body.

      Our Essex Startups Team based at Studio X administer the Essex Start-up scheme and will assess if you and your business meet the criteria to be considered for endorsement. Endorsements are limited and this scheme is a competitive one. Only recent Essex Graduates who studied a full time degree course and Essex students in the final year of their full time degree course will be able to apply to the Essex scheme.

      Find our more about how to qualify to apply to the Essex scheme and contact our Essex Startups Team if you have any questions.

      To be eligible to make an immigration application under this scheme you must be able to meet all the Immigration Rules and requirements in force at the time, these include but are not limited to:

      • Applicants must not have previously established a business in the UK and;
      • Must not have already had 2 years leave in the Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category and;
      • Must have a valid Tier 4/Student visa and be able to make a valid Start-up application before that permissions expires.

      As a Tier4/Student visa holder you can work on a business idea but your work conditions do not allow you to engage in business activity so you must not start your business until you have been granted your Start-up visa, unless your most recent Tier4/Student visa was granted on or after 1 October 2019 in which case you can start your business when you have submitted your Start-up visa application to the Home Office. Find out more about what you can and can’t do and when by reading the Home Office guidance for endorsing bodies (.pdf).

      Read the Home Office guidance and Immigration rules for more information about applying for permission to stay.

      If you have been endorsed and would like guidance about making your Start-up application please read the UKCISA guidance and contact their student advice line or SUAdvice if you have any questions.

      Extending your permission to stay – Innovator scheme

      It isn’t possible to apply for further permission to stay under the Start-up scheme but you may be eligible to apply to the Innovator scheme. The University is not an endorsing body for this scheme. We recommend you read the Immigration Rules Appendix Innovator. For details of the Innovator scheme, see the guide to the Innovator scheme on the Home Office website.

      If you require immigration advice about this scheme you will need to contact an immigration lawyer.

    • Skilled Worker

      The Skilled Worker route replaces Tier 2. You will need to be sponsored by your employer to apply under this route. We recommend reading the UKCISA guidance and the Home Office website for more information.

      If you are offered sponsorship by an employer under this immigration route and are within 3 months of completing your Essex course or are a PhD student who has studied for 12 months or more, you may require a letter from the University. You can request a letter from our International Services Team by filling in our online enquiry form for current students., When requesting a letter, please confirm your intended start date, your employer’s details and whether they have issued you with a Certificate of Sponsorship.

      Our International Services Team aren’t authorised to provide immigration advice about applying to the Skilled Worker route. If you require immigration advice you can ask your sponsor, contact the UKCISA student advice line or an immigration lawyer.

    Other work categories

    To read about all the current immigration routes that allow work and find out if you might be eligible read the UKCISA Information and guidance on working after studies.

    For further immigration advice about applying for permission to stay in the UK to work after you’ve finished studying, contact the UKCISA student advice line or SUAdvice for guidance about Tier 4 (DES) or Start-up.

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