Tier 4 students – visa options to remain in the UK after completing studies

Non-EEA students frequently want to stay in the UK after completing their studies here. There are a number of visa options that may be available to them, depending on their individual circumstances. The main options are outlined below.

Graduate Entrepreneur: A scheme for graduates with a genuine and credible business idea. Applicants must obtain an endorsement from the University or UK Department of Trade and Investment (DIT) and must have a minimum BA degree or equivalent. NOTE: In the summer of 2018 the Home Office announced their plans to replace the Graduate Entrepreneur visa with a new ‘Start up’ visa. This new visa route is meant to widen the applicant pool of talented entrepreneurs and make the visa process faster and smoother for entrepreneurs coming to the UK. The start up visa will be for ‘talented business founders’ irrespective if they hold a degree or not. It will require applicants to obtain an endorsement from a university or approved business sponsor, including accelerators. The Home Office has not announced yet when the new start up visa will be introduced but it may be as early as in Spring 2019.

Tier 2 General: This is the main immigration route to work in the UK. It requires a Sponsorship in the form of a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a Tier 2 licensed employer. The visa is linked to a specific job and employer. The job needs to be skilled (graduate level) and meet the minimum salary for Tier 2 General visa.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa: For those who have a viable business idea and have at least £200,000 available to invest in the UK (£50,000 is sufficient if the funds are from UK government department or Home Office approved seed funding competition). Unless the funds are from the UK government department or from an approved seed funding competition, the applicant must submit the Tier 1 Entrepreneur application from outside the UK.  NOTE: Entrepreneur visa category is due to be replaced by Innovator visa around April 2019. Specific requirements for the Innovator visa have not been published yet. What we know is that it will be for ‘more experienced business people’ and will require an endorsement from a ‘business sponsor’ who will assess applicants’ business ideas for their ‘innovation, viability and scalability’.

Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE): This visa can be obtained for work experience, training or research. Visa duration is 12-24 months, depending on the type of scheme. A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a Tier 5 sponsor or overarching body is required.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa: For world leaders (Exceptional Talent route) and emerging world leaders (Exceptional Promise route) in digital technology, science, engineering, the arts, architecture and fashion design. The Exceptional Promise route (applicants must demonstrate that they are future world leaders in their field) is more likely for graduates as they would normally be at an early stage of career.  

Spouse visa: For married partners of British citizens or persons with indefinite leave to remain in the UK, who wish to join, or stay with their husband, wife or civil partner in the UK.

Unmarried partner visa: For long term partners of British citizens or persons with indefinite leave to remain in the UK, who wish to join, or stay with their partner in the UK.

EEA family member permit: For long term partners of EEA nationals, who wish to join, or stay with their partner in the UK.

Tier 5 Youth Mobility: For individuals of certain nationalities including Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and New Zealand aged between 18-30.

Ancestry visa: For individuals who are commonwealth citizens and have a grandparent who was born in the UK. Must be able to prove that one grandparent was born in the UK.

Kasia Janucik (Senior Associate, Carter Lemon Camerons Solicitors), 7 March 2019  

Contact our lawyers in Carter Lemon Camerons Solicitors for advice on immigration matters. The specialist team at Carter Lemon Camerons Solicitors can assist you with all immigration and business-related matters. Our years of expertise in these areas mean that we can provide tailored solutions for you. For more details, please contact Kasia Janucik, Senior Associate by email at KasiaJanucik@cartercamerons.com or direct dial +44 (0)20 7406 1053 OR Aleksandra Kowalska, Registered European Lawyer, email AleksandraKowalska@cartercamerons.com or direct dial +44 (0) 20 7406 1018.