Post-Study Options for International Students

Graduation Season is upon us, and many international students will be wondering what their Post-Study options for remaining in the UK are? 

There are more options than you might think…

Doctorate Extension Scheme

This route provides students completing their PhD or similar doctoral qualification an additional 12 months leave to remain.  This leave is granted as an extension of your existing Tier 4 (General) leave It follows that you must have Tier 4 leave to remain in the UK in order to apply.  

This route is attractive if you wish to gain work experience, as you are able to look for and begin working.  You must seek the support of your university for this route as they will need to assign another CAS for your extension application.


Sponsored Employment

If you are completing your studies and they are degree level or above, you may wish to secure employment in the UK.  In order to work in the UK, you must find a job with an employer who is on the list of registered sponsors.

Only registered sponsors can employ candidates under Tier 2 from outside of the European Union, and they have to issue you with a certificate of sponsorship.  You must meet the required skill level for the post, and be paid the appropriate salary.  You will need to show that you have the appropriate English language skills, and have sufficient maintenance funds to cover your first month’s employment. We can assist you with this process.


Start-Up Visa

This scheme was introduced to replace the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Scheme and is aimed at motivated and entrepreneurial students who wish to set up in business in the UK.  In order to apply for further leave to remain in this category, you must be endorsed by a Home Office approved endorsing body and many universities are approved to endorse Start-Ups.  You can find the list of endorsing bodies for Start-Up visas here.

There are, however, caps on the amount endorsement bodies can assign in one year.  The first step on your Start-Up application is to draft your business plan.  It is this that your endorsing body will need to scrutinise prior to providing endorsement.  You can switch into this category from Tier 4 and the now closed category of Graduate Entrepreneur.  You are not required to show investment funding for these applications. 


Innovator Visa

This is another category that has been introduced to replace the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur). You must have a minimum of £50,000 at your disposal to invest in your business, and endorsement from a Home Office approved endorsing body.

As the with Start-Up visa, your business plan is the key document for obtaining an endorsement. If you are currently in the UK on the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme, you can apply to switch into this category when your leave is due to expire.   We can assist with the Innovator application process, and you may find our free downloadable guide of assistance whilst you are in the initial stage of development for your business.


Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)

This category is for specific nationals, who’s country the UK government have reciprocal arrangements with.   If you are from Australia, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, or a British Overseas Citizen, you can apply to work in the UK for a maximum of two years.  

You must be aged between 18 and 30, and have sufficient maintenance funds in your bank account.  The amounts are subject to change so you will need to check the requirements on applying.  

One disadvantage of this scheme is that you cannot switch into this category from your Tier 4 visa, and will have to return home to apply for entry clearance.  There are also different requirements, depending on your country of nationality, and there are limited allocations for certain nationalities.


Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)

If you intend to work in the creative or sporting sector, for a charity, as a religious worker, government authorised exchange or international arrangement, you can apply to come and work in the UK for a period of one or two years.  

You will require sponsorship from a UK government licenced sponsor (similar to Tier 2 employment), and it is usual for you to apply for entry clearance from your home country.  There are only very limited circumstances in which you can switch from Tier 4 into Tier 5 (Temporary Worker). 


Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) or (Exceptional Promise)

If you are internationally recognised or likely to become internationally recognised as a leader in the field of arts, sciences, engineering, medical research, and digital technology, you may be able to switch into this category.  

You will need to be endorsed by a designated body. You do not need to show English Language, maintenance funds and you can work in any job.  This is an extremely flexible route but you do have to be endorsed by a specified body. 


Tier 1 (Investor)

This route is for people who have at least £2 million to invest in the UK.  You must have held these funds for a period of 2 years, prior to your application (subject to limited exceptions).  You cannot rely on investment in property or property services in this category. 


To discuss any aspect of post-study options for international students please do feel free to contact Sally McEwen on 0330 111 6682 or sally@otb.legal. We would love to talk to you to offer free, impartial, no-obligation initial advice.


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