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 university sponsor must agree to continue sponsoring you and issue you with a new Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
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.
From summer 2021, the Doctorate Extension Scheme will merge into the new Graduate route under which PhD graduates can apply for three years' permission in the UK to work. It appears that there will not be provision for a current Doctorate Extension Scheme participant to switch into the Graduate route for the balance of the three years' permission.
- Graduate route - there will be a new Graduate immigration route from summer 2021. This route will provide international students with the opportunity to stay in the UK to live and work, or to look for work, after they graduate. Students with a Tier 4 or Student route visa who will complete a degree in or after the summer of 2021 may be eligible to apply. Undergraduate and master's degree students will be able to apply to stay in the UK for two years and PhD students will be able to apply to stay for three years.
- Skilled Worker – for those students who obtain a job offer from a UK company which is registered as a sponsor with the Home Office. Provided the UK role is sufficiently skilled and paid at an appropriate rate, they may be able to extend their leave under this category. If you are sponsored and working in the UK as a Skilled Worker for a full five year period you may then be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (i.e. settlement).
- Start Up Scheme – this route is aimed at people, including those with Tier 4 and Student permission or who have leave under the Doctorate Extension Scheme, who wish to set up a business in the UK, and who have a business plan endorsed by a Home Office-approved endorsing body. Leave is granted for two years under this route.
- Innovator Scheme – this scheme replaced the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur route and is aimed at experienced businesspeople seeking to establish an innovative business in the UK. You cannot switch from Tier 4/Student straight into the Innovator scheme within the UK. Applicants must meet investment fund criteria, hold endorsement from an independent endorsing body and must meet other eligibility requirements.
- Long residency indefinite leave to remain – if you have spent 10 continuous years in the UK under any combination of immigration categories you may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (i.e. settlement) on the basis of your long residency in the UK.