Working after your studies

Graduate visa

The Graduate visa allows you to remain in the UK to work or look for work in the UK after successfully completing an eligible course. Successful applicants will be granted a two-year visa if they complete a degree course and doctoral graduates will be granted a three-year visa. The main eligibility criteria are outlined below but please read our FAQs for detailed guidance. 

  • You can only apply in the UK
  • You must apply before your Tier 4 or Student visa expires 
  • You must have successfully completed a UK Bachelor's degree or postgraduate degree such as a Master's or doctoral degree  
  • Your successful programme completion must have been reported to the Home Office by SOAS Student Visa Compliance
  • You must have successfully completed the eligible programme during the validity of your current Tier 4 or Student visa 
  • For programmes that are longer than 12 months, you must have studied on that programme in the UK for at least 12 months. You must also have held valid Student visa during those 12 months. (Refer to paragraph 3.27 of the Covid-19 concessions if you have been studying outside the UK via distance learning for part of your programme due to Covid-19.)

Reporting programme completion to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

You must wait for a confirmation email from SOAS Student Visa Compliance (SVC) before submitting your Graduate Visa application or your application may be refused.

When the SVC team report your programme completion to UKVI, you'll receive an email from them confirming this. Reports can only be sent to UKVI after the confirmed results are released via Online Student Services following review and ratification by the School Board of Exams and Assessment. For Postgraduate taught students who have completed their programme in September, these reports should normally be made from the beginning of December.

If you do not receive an email from the SVC team in December informing you that your course completion has been reported to UKVI, please contact the SVC team as soon as possible and before your Student visa expires.

Help and guidance

The Student Advice Service currently do not offer one to one appointments regarding Graduate Route or other post study visa options as the focus of our advice work is assisting students and applicants with queries relating to their Student visa. We provide the following resources and links to help you understand how to apply for this visa:

We will be holding a Graduate Route presentation for enrolled SOAS students at 2pm, 7 March 2023 in the Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT).

Start-up visa

From 1 July 2021 onwards most graduates will be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa. This unsponsored visa will be valid for two years and allows the holder to work, be self-employed and set up a business. The Graduate visa is the most flexible work route available.

Anyone who wishes to establish a start-up or business in the UK and is eligible for the Graduate visa should apply for it. We also recommend that anyone wishing to go down this route books a consultation with the Student Enterprise team to find out more about the free support and services on offer to graduate start-ups.

If you are not eligible for the Graduate visa and wish to establish a business in the UK that meets the Start-up visa requirements, please contact the Student Enterprise team to enquire further.

Please note that SOAS does not sponsor non-SOAS applicants for this route. SOAS exchange students may be considered at the university’s discretion. 

Key dates

  • January–March 2023: Start-up Visa applications open
  • May–June 2023: Start-up Visa applications are reviewed and shortlisted
  • July 2023: Start-up Visa endorsement panel

For further information, contact

Other visa options

UKCISA provides an overview of the visa options that may be available to you once your program is complete such as Skilled Worker.

Help with looking for work

The SOAS Careers Service offers guidance, advice and information resources on careers, employers, vacancies, CV’s and interview skills.