How long can I continue to receive advice from ISVAT on my working options at the end of my studies?
ISVAT will be able to advise you for the period that you have a valid visa sponsored by LSE. Unfortunately, once your visa has expired we are no longer able to advise you on your options.
We cannot provide advice to alumni for their employers e.g. sponsor licence applications.
When can I start working full-time at the end of my studies?
You can start working full-time once your official programme end date has passed. Your official programme end date is the date that was provided on your CAS number not the date you submit your dissertation.
PhD students who have extended their Tier 4 visa for either their viva or corrections are bound by the 20 working hours conditions until their new end date has passed. If you are unsure if you are affected, come to a PhD Academy drop-in session for advice before accepting a full-time contract.
The Home Office considers the extra two or four months at the end of your visa to be vacation, so you can work full time during this period. However, the same conditions apply unless you are switching into a different immigration route e.g. Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or Tier 2(General).
More information can be found on the UKCISA web site.
We cannot provide letters for employers confirming your ability to work full time at the end of your studies. However, you may wish to refer them to our leaflet on employing LSE students.
What happens if I do not find employment before my visa expires?
There are some common misunderstandings about what happens when your visa expires:
My visa has expired but I know there is a grace period to remain in the UK beyond this date.
Your visa expires at midnight on the expiry date of your BRP/sticker. Once this date has passed, you are an overstayer. There is no grace period which allows you to remain in the UK without affecting your immigration history.
You are able to make some applications in the UK as an overstayer (if permitted by the rules) but this is often at the discretion of the employer or university.
LSE does not sponsor students to make Tier 4 applications in the UK once their visa has expired.
When your visa has expired, your period of overstay continues to build until you have left the UK or have a successful visa application outcome. You may have to declare this on future applications.
You also lose all of your conditions of your visa, so are unable to continue working or access the NHS.
I'm a non-visa national, so I'm automatically entitled to be in the UK for 90 days after the expiry date of my visa as a Standard Visitor (tourist).
You can only access the right to be a Standard Visitor in the UK after the expiry of your Tier 4 visa if you travel out of the UK and re-enter on this permission. You do not automatically become a tourist when your Tier 4 expires, you just become an overstayer.
A Border Force Officer will assess whether you are a "genuine visitor" when you re-enter. We are aware of cases where LSE students have been denied entry to the UK when re-entering immediately after the expiry of their Tier 4 e.g. they had an established relationship with a British national.
Check our information on travelling during and after your studies for more information.
Advice on applying for Tier 2 (General) at the end of your studies
The information on this page is taken from the Tier 2 Policy Guidance. You can also find further information on the UKCISA web pages.
ISVAT specialises in the student immigration rules. Whilst we can provide information on switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2, we are not trained to provide detailed advice on the Tier 2 immigration rules and completing the application forms. For detailed advice speak to your sponsoring employer or seek external advice at www.oisc.gov.uk or www.ilpa.org.uk
We are unable to advise on Tier 2 Sponsor Licence applications for your employers. Details on how to apply for a sponsor licence can be found on the UKVI web pages.
To sponsor you for a Tier 2 (General) visa, your employer must
have a Tier 2 sponsor licence. See the Register of Tier 2 sponsors
offer you a 'graduate level' job, or a job on the Shortage Occupation list
offer a minimum salary of £20,800 per year or £30,000 for some applicants (this can be higher depending on your job title)
allocate a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) to you. It is at the employer's discretion if they wish to allocate you a COS to sponsor you under Tier 2 (General). Whilst they may be able to offer you a position, if it does not meet the requirements of Tier 2 (General), they may not be able to sponsor you for a visa.
You can apply to switch to Tier 2 inside the UK if your current and unexpired visa is:
Resident Labour Market Test Exemption
If you are switching from Tier 4/Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) to Tier 2 (General) in the UK, you will be exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test. More information can be found on the UKCISA web pages, if your employer requires confirmation of this.
Immigration Skills Charge
Your employer will be exempt from paying the Immigration Skills Charge if you are switching from a Tier 4 visa in the UK. You can find more information on the UKCISA web pages.
When to apply for Tier 2 (General)
If you want to switch from Tier 4 or a student visa:
you must have "completed" your undergraduate or postgraduate degree programme.
From the 11th January 2018, you are no longer required to have "been awarded" your degree to be able to switch into Tier 2 (General). It is now possible to do this with a letter confirming that you have "completed" your programme. This means you have sat all of your exams and submitted all academic papers e.g. your dissertation. However, if you apply for your Tier 2 visa using a letter saying you have "completed" but have not been awarded your degree, you cannot start working in your position until you have obtained your Tier 2 visa. This means you cannot start a permanent position whilst you have an application in progress.
If you apply after you have been awarded your degree, you will be able to start working permanently in your position once your Tier 2 application has been submitted.
you must have completed a minimum of 12 months study towards a PhD programme. Your Tier 2 sponsor will need to see evidence of this.
Your employer may ask if it is possible for you to extend your student visa to give you more time in the UK before being sponsored. Unless you are a PhD student applying under the Doctorate Extension Scheme (see above), you can only extend your student stay if you are continuing to study in the UK.
Points required to apply for Tier 2 (General):
You need 70 points to apply:
Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) - 30 points
Maintenance funds – 10 points
English language – 10 points
Salary – 20 points
Documents required from LSE
To switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2 inside the UK, you need to show evidence that you have "completed" your programme or "been awarded your degree". When you apply you can show this by including:
your original degree certificate, academic transcript; confirmation of award letter; or
a letter confirming you have "completed" your degree on LSE headed paper from the Student Services Centre
How to request a document for your Tier 2 application
- Your degree certificate will be available for collection at your graduation ceremony;
- Your transcript will be available within three weeks of your results being released;
- You can request a confirmation of award letter the day after results are released;
- You can request a letter stating that you have "completed" your programme once you have sat all of your exams and submitted all academic papers. You can request a letter by emailing Registry.Visa.Queries@lse.ac.uk.
We can only issue these letters if you have an offer of permanent employment, which requires you to apply for a Tier 2 visa prior to the release of your results. We will ask to see evidence of your offer of employment before commencing our checks on your studies. The letter will be addressed to your prospective employer. It will state that the letter can only be used for a Tier 2 application and the date that your results will be released.
We cannot provide letters confirming you have completed your programme in advance of your completion. You must actually have completed the programme. We will also not provide these letters if you do not have an offer of employment. Unless you actually need to apply for Tier 2, this letter has no value as part of the job application process.
If you have deferred any assessments, failed to sit an exam or failed to submit any other assessed work, you have not completed your programme and cannot be issued with this letter.
If you are required to re-sit any of your assessments and you have a new end date for your programme, you must inform you employer as soon as your results are released, because you no longer meet the requirements of the Tier 2 rules.
Only the Student Services Centre are able to issue these documents , so you should not request them from your department as you risk being refused.
Students with full scholarships
If you were fully funded (tuition fees and living costs) for your studies in the UK by the UK government, your home government, the British Council or any international scholarship agency in the last 12 months you also need to submit a letter from the financial sponsor confirming you can remain in the UK to work.
Application forms and the cost of applying can be found on the UKVI web pages.
Applying for Tier 2 from outside the UK
If you want to benefit from the concessions of being a student, you must apply for Tier 2 from inside the UK before you current visa expires.
If you can only apply from outside the UK, your employer will have to pass the Resident Labour Market Test and they will have to use a 'restricted' COS to sponsor you.
Applying for a Tier 4 (Doctorate Extension Scheme) Visa - LSE Endorsed - at the end of your studies.
Students studying for a PhD at LSE with Tier 4 (General) visas are eligible to apply for permission to work for 12 months at the end of their studies.
As the scheme is under Tier 4, you will have to apply for the additional 12 months before you complete your studies at LSE. This will be your award date, so the latest date you can apply will be the day before you are awarded your PhD.
Please note that not all requests to take part in the scheme may be granted depending on your future employment plans. You can only apply for this visa from within the UK from a valid Tier 4 visa.
When to apply:
after you complete your viva with no corrections and before you receive confirmation of your award in writing, or
after your corrections have been submitted and before you receive confirmation of your award in writing.
How to apply:
inform the PhD Academy at the point you submit your thesis that you are interested in applying for the scheme.
attend one of our PhD Academy drop-in sessions for advice on applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme. The Visa Compliance Team will not issue your CAS until you have spoken to us.
request a CAS from LSE confirming that you wish to seek or take work in the 12 months after the end of your studies: in requesting a CAS you are confirming that you agree to the conditions of the visa which includes maintaining contact with the PhD Academy during the 12 months;
attend an appointment with ISVAT to check your application - you only have one chance at this visa so if it is refused correctly, you will lose the opportunity to apply again.
you will be required to formally keep in touch with the School during this period
you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for you and any dependants who are applying with you - speak to us for advice on how to pay this
you will need to provide evidence of funds (£2,530 = 2 months maintenance funds)
Conditions of the scheme:
you will be able to take any kind of work including self employment (except work as a doctor or dentist or training or as a professional sports coach or sportsperson)
you will be permitted to work full time from the date you complete your programme at LSE
you can do supplementary study
More information can be found on the UKCISA web site and our info sheet.
Applying for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa - LSE Endorsed - at the end of your studies.
LSE is able to endorse around 20 students each year. Our scheme is externally recognised as being run successfully and we are proud of the opportunities that we can bring.
For more information on the scheme read the UKCISA web pages.
You can read the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Policy Guidance on the UK Visas and Immigration website:
UK Visas and Immigration
How do I apply for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme?
You can only be endorsed by competing in the LSE Entrepreneur of the Year, LSE Social Entrepreneur of the Year competition or Seed Funding competition. For details go to the Generate at LSE website.
In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to endorse students who were unable to compete in these competitions. However, you must still have a genuine and credible business plan, which has been approved by LSE Careers. Requests for endorsement because you have been unable to find an alternative immigration route to apply for, are highly unlikely to be successful.
We regret that we can only endorse non-LSE students who are in business with LSE students.
Once you are selected by the LSE panel and have been informed that you have been awarded your degree, request an endorsement letter from the Registry. This will confirm that you and your business idea have been assessed by LSE. If you have dependants with you that wish to remain in the UK, you will need to inform the Registry as this information must go on your endorsement letter.
Are there any types of businesses that will not be endorsed?
We have endorsed a variety of businesses from social media applications, to tourism and social enterprises. The only type of business prohibited under the scheme is property development or property management.
Am I eligible?
To be eligible to apply for the visa in the UK you need to meet the following requirements:
You must hold a Tier 4 (General) Student visa/student visa or be working in a postdoctoral role on a Tier 2 (General) visa;
You must successfully have been awarded your degree programme at LSE (PG Certificate or Diplomas are not eligible);
You must not have been granted immigration permission previously under the Tier 1 (Post-Study Work), IGS, Fresh Talent or SEGS schemes.
You must have held £945 in your bank account for a consecutive 90 day period
if you have been wholly sponsored (full tuition fees and living costs) by a government or an international scholarship agency in the last 12 months, evidence that you have their unconditional consent to remain in the UK to set up your business.
You can apply for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route from outside the UK. In this case:
You will have to complete an application form, which we can assist with.
Applying in the UK: Form Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
Applying outside the UK: Online application form
It is not possible to apply in person for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa.
When can I start working on my buisness?
You cannot start your business until you have submitted an application for Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur. You can attend events organised by LSE Careers, you can seek funding and make plans for your business, but you cannot actually start your business or use funding while you hold your Tier 4 visa.
Can I employ Tier 4 students to work on my business?
Tier 4 students must not be self-employed, including being listed as company directors. If you have any Tier 4 students working with you on your business, they must be employees of the company.
If you intend to employ staff to assist with your business, you will need to ensure you are making the correct employment checks to ensure you are not breaching the immigration rules.
Can I extend my Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa
It may be possible for you to extend your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa for a second year, depending on the success of your business. It is important that if you are considering this as an option, you contact us well in advance of your visa expiring for advice on extending. This is an extension of your previous visa based on the business you were developing. It is unlikely that we will be able to extend your visa for a new business plan.
Applying for a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) visa at the end of your studies
The Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) visa is only available to nationals from the following countries:
The Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa allows you to work in the UK for up to two years without a sponsor. You cannot switch into this visa from Tier 4. You can only apply for this visa outside the UK. At the end of the two years, you will need to apply for any new immigration permission from outside the UK.
Study is permitted on this visa, but your main intention should be to use it for work.
You can find further details on UKCISA and Home Office
Applying Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) visa at the end of your studies
There are five schemes under the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) route:
These schemes allow you to undertake specific types of work from one to two years, depending on the scheme. Most schemes only permit entry clearance applications, In certain circumstances, you may be able to switch to the Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) in the UK.
Full details of all the schemes and when you can apply in the UK can be found on the UKCISA web pages.
Applying for a UK Ancestry Visa at the end of your studies.
The Ancestry visa enables the following groups to take employment or set up a business in the UK:
You are a Commonwealth Citizen;
You are aged over 17; and
You can prove you have a grandparent who was born in the UK/the Channel Islands/the Isle of Man/ on a British registered ship or aircraft/ the Republic of Ireland (before 31 March 1922).
The Ancestry visa is valid for five years and you must intend to seek employment. It can lead to settlement after five years. Further details can be found on the UKVI web pages.