If you are currently studying in the UK and you want to work or develop a business in the UK after you graduate, there are a number of different visa options that you may be eligible to apply for:
Working in the UK
Tier 2 is open to recent graduates with a Bachelor or Master’s degree, PhD, PGCE or PGDE from a UK recognised or listed body. You can apply for Tier 2 without first having to leave the UK if you have an offer of a skilled job from an employer that is a licensed sponsor with UKBA — you can find a list of licensed sponsors here. The job must meet minimum salary criteria and the minimum salary will differ depending on which profession you wish to work in. However, there is no limit on the number of students who can gain a Tier 2 visa for this scheme, provided they meet these requirements. On this scheme, you can stay in the UK for 3 years, with the possibility to extend.
Tier 5 temporary worker visa.
Graduates can also consider applying for a Tier 5 ‘temporary worker’ visa but you must leave the UK and apply from overseas for this category. The only exception to this is if you are undertaking postgraduate training or work experience that is relevant to your qualification, in which case you can switch into the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange scheme from inside the UK. To be able to apply for a visa under most Tier 5 categories you must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor and pass a points-based assessment. There are different requirements under the Youth mobility scheme. Tier 5 work experience and internship schemes are limited to 12 months, but other schemes covering research, fellowships and training in the fields of science and medicine are limited to two years.
Developing your own business in the UK
The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa route is for students who want to develop their entrepreneurial skills by setting up a business in the UK. To be eligible, you need to be endorsed by a UK higher education institute (HEI) which has signed up to this scheme. You must also have completed your degree course with this same higher education institute. There is a limit of 1,000 places under this scheme for the first year. An additional 1,000 places will be available under this route for completing MBA students from April 2013. On this scheme, you can stay in the UK for one year initially but you will have the option to extend this for a further 12 months if your HEI is willing to continue to endorse you. To find out which universities and colleges are currently taking part in this scheme, visit this page of UKBA website. Other HEIs will be eligible to take part from April 2013.