We understand that the last year of graduate or post-graduate studies can be a stressful time and even more so when you also have to give thought to your immigration status.
We are well-placed to work through your exact circumstances and outline the various options that may be available to you post-graduation.
These may include:
- Doctorate Extension Scheme – for those students who are close to completing their PhD in the UK, there may be the option to apply for a further 12 months’ leave under this scheme. Your Tier 4 sponsor must agree to continue sponsoring you and issue you with a new Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). You can apply for this scheme up to 60 days before the expected course end date stated on your new CAS. You cannot apply after your PhD is completed so it is crucial to plan ahead and apply in plenty of time.
Once you have successfully completed your course, you can use the additional 12 month period to further your chosen career or obtain invaluable work experience. You cannot extend your stay under this scheme so you would then need to switch into a different immigration category or leave the UK at the end of the 12 months.
- Tier 2 (General) – for those students who obtain a job offer from a UK company which is registered as a sponsor with the Home Office sponsor where the role is sufficiently skilled and paid at an appropriate rate, they may be able to extend their leave under this category. Employers do not need to carry out the usual resident labour market test for the position (i.e. advertising the position and carrying out a recruitment process) if you are a switching from Tier 4 (General) to Tier 2 (General) provided you are still in the UK and have valid leave under Tier 4 and you have received your final results confirming you have passed your degree and will be awarded a UK Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, PGCE or PGDE.
If you are sponsored and working in the UK for a full 5 year period under Tier 2 (General), you may then be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (i.e settlement).
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) – for graduates wanting to set up a business in the UK and who have been officially endorsed by their UK higher educational institution or by the department for International Trade through the graduate entrpreneur Sirius programme as having a genuine and credible business idea, there is the option of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur). Successful applicants may obtain a further 12 months’ leave in the UK under this category which may then be extended for an additional 12 months. This category does not however lead to indefinite leave to remain.
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) – those with Tier 4 (General) leave can switch into Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) if they can show, amongst other requirements, that they have access to £50,000 funding from either a UK government department or a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by the department for International trade or a UK venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.
If the funding does not come from these specific sources, you must show that you have access to £200,000 funding yourself or have 3rd parties (e.g. family member or investor).
If succesful, under this category you can set up or take over the running of a business and work for your business on an employed or self-employed basis.