Every year thousands of students come to the UK to study and many want to stay in the UK when they graduate from college or university.
This article outlines some of the most popular categories for new graduates who want to stay in the UK.
The best category for graduates who want to establish their own business in the UK is likely to be the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur.
To apply for a visa in this category you will need a credible business idea and an appropriate university who are willing to sponsor you. The university that endorses your application does not need to be the institution at which you completed your degree.
Leave to remain in the UK is initially granted for 12 months but can be extended for a further 12 months. You can make your application from either in the UK or from overseas.
Graduate Entrepreneurs can switch at a later stage into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category with a lower investment funds requirement of £50,000 instead of the normal £200,000.
Exceptional Talent/Exceptional Promise
The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category is more likely to be suitable for those graduating with a PhD or those who have gained some experience prior to their most recent study.
Unlike the Graduate Entrepreneur category, individuals cannot make their application to enter this category while in the UK but will need to leave and then apply for Entry Clearance.
There are a number of different endorsing bodies which vary depending on your area of expertise: science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts.
The different endorsing bodies have different sets of criteria which are applied to applicants but, generally, individuals need to show that they are have made a significant contribution to their field or for those at an earlier stage in their careers they will need to show that they have the potential to make a significant contribution to their field.
Once granted, the exceptional talent visa offers a large amount of flexibility. There are very limited restrictions which means that individuals in this category can work on an employed or self-employed basis and take up projects as appropriate for them.
Leave to remain in the UK can be granted for up to five years and this visa is a route that can lead to settlement in the UK.
Tier 2 Sponsored Work
An individual who has been studying at particular type of Higher Education Institution is able to switch into the Tier 2 sponsored work category if they are able to find a company with a sponsor licence which is willing to sponsor their position and pay them an appropriate salary.
This category offers less flexibility as you are required to be sponsored by a specific employer but if you do want to change your job once in the category then it is possible to just make a new application for leave to remain in the UK. The other restriction is that your employer must hold a sponsor licence. If, however, you are offered a position with a company that does not hold a licence it might be worth investigating if they are willing to obtain a sponsor licence.
This category potentially leads to settlement in the UK after 5 years.
If you are looking to study further in the UK you can potentially extend your stay if you can gain admission to a new course of study.
There is a limit on the amount of time that you can study in the UK so you will need to be careful that a further grant of leave would not take you beyond the limit. Generally, individuals can spend up to five years as a Tier 4 Student studying at degree level or above, however, this is extended to six years where the first degree is four years in duration. There are exceptions to this, including where you are applying to study at PhD level or on a course such as law, architecture, medicine or dentistry.
Your course must also show academic progression from your previous studies. This means that your next course should be at an NQF level higher than the course you have previously been sponsored to complete. However, in some circumstances you will be allowed to progress on to a course at the same level if it can be shown that your new course is related to your previous study and relevant to your proposed career. The Home Office will look carefully at the institution at which you have studied and your career and educational history to assess whether you will be permitted to study at the same level.
This is not a category which will lead to settlement in the UK.
There may be other options for individuals depending on their circumstances in the UK for example, Tier 1 Entrepreneur or Investor visas.
For further information about our services or about a UK visa please contact one of our Executive Directors:
Nick Duffy e: firstname.lastname@example.org t: + 44 7825 444854
Tim Carswell e: email@example.com t: + 44 7836 206883