how to get a work visa in the uk

How to get a work visa in the UK – life after a student visa

So, you recently graduated after studying in the ever-sunny United Kingdom on a Tier 4 student visa and would like to stay here. Well who can blame you, when the pies are this good? Good news! We can show you how to get a work visa in the UK.


So, the thing is, a Tier 4 visa can be switched for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 work visa, just as long as you have an employer with the right to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). In a nutshell, you need to find an employer willing to sponsor you. Which, actually, might not be as difficult as it sounds.

Take a look at the below advice, and see if any of the tools we mention suit you.


Take a look at the UKBA approved sponsor list


The very first thing you should do is to have a look at the UKBA list of Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsors. The list contains all employers with the right to issue a CoS, their location, UKBA rating and sponsorship type – (just FYI, Tier 5 visas are for temporary work such as internships, and Tier 2 for general employment)


Not only will this allow you to uncover a whole range of companies you might be able to work for, but you can have a check to see whether the companies you’re already interested in are approved sponsors.


Slight word of warning here, if you don’t have a potential employer in mind, this list will still be useful, but you will have to do some preliminary research. The UKBA list of employers does not provide information on which sector it’s active or how to contact it, meaning you’ll have to be something of a ninja. You can be a ninja, right?


Find a sponsored employer


You’re still going to have to put in some work here – depending on what it is you want to do you’ll need to use possible resources to find employers in your chosen industries. University’s career services are a good starting point, but there are plenty of sites dedicated to sifting through great employers in plenty of different areas.


Talk to your professors, get in touch with practitioners, get involved in alumni events and go to conferences relating to your field (many are free) – get out there and find out what kind of opportunity is going to float that boat of yours.


Once you’ve compiled a list of potential employers, refer to the UKBA sponsorship list and check if any of companies of your interest already have a sponsor license.


So the question is, what if your dream company doesn’t? You need to prepare yourself to convince them.


Read up on the requirements a sponsor have to meet and find the exact requirements you have to comply to (you can start by using this free visa tool by Migreat). The process isn’t particularly complicated and since 1st October 2013 it is even easier for organisations to employ a recent graduate for 12 months under the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange scheme (GAE). As long as you are clear and concise with what’s required of your company, it shouldn’t be too much of a barrier.


We recommend selling yourself and your skills before hitting them with the visa requirements stuff – make them want you, and then carefully explain what they’ll need to do to get you.


Graduate jobs for international students


Have you considered a graduate scheme? Companies offering them are often multinational corporations with the all-too-precious funds to provide extensive training. They undertake projects all over the globe and they really value international candidates – this is something that will set you above any other applicants!

If you’re not sure about the requirements to either apply for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 work visa or to switch from a Tier 4 student visa, you can find out all the details using Migreat’s free work visa tool. Just answer a few basic questions and get a personalised to-do list. Sorted.


We hope we’ve managed to clear up a few issues around how to get a work visa in the UK – very best of luck to you!

Originally published as a ‘how-to’ on:


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Natasha Hodgson is the Content and Community Manager over at Enternships. She loves writing about inspiring things, and Nicolas Cage. Luckily, those two things are not mutually exclusive.

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