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How to extend your visa after a Tier 4 student visa?

How to extend your visa after a Tier 4 student visa?


Staying in the UK after graduation

 
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Updated: April 2016

After you finish your studies, you can switch to several different visa categories from inside the UK:

Option 1. Tier 2 General

This is the route to take employment after you graduate. The initial visa is granted for up to three years with a right to extend it further, as long as your total stay is not more than six years. After five years, you have a right to apply for an indefinite leave to remain.

Your employer should be listed as a Tier 2 Sponsor and provide you a certificate of sponsorship.

The job you’re offered as a graduate must have a particular skills level and pay £20,800 or more, depending on the job.

To apply within the UK, you need to demonstrate that you have been awarded a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a UK university, a postgraduate certificate in education or a professional graduate diploma of education (PGDE). Otherwise you must leave the UK and make your application from abroad.

Maintenance funds: You need to show that you can support yourself during your stay. The requirement is £945 continuously held on your bank account for 90 days before you apply. Alternatively if you sponsor is A-rated, you can provide your sponsor’s certification that they can support and accommodate you for the first month you’re employed.

Proof of English language skills: You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply. A bachelor’s or master’s degree from a UK university is considered to be a sufficient proof.

Option 2. Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and a genuine, credible and innovative business idea, this type of visa is for you. The initial visa is granted for one year with a right to extend it for another year.

After that, graduate entrepreneurs usually switch to Tier 1 Entrepreneur with an investment of £50,000 or Tier 2 General with an exemption from the Labour market test.

To apply for this type of visa, you need to obtain a UK recognised bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD and an endorsement from a UK higher education institution or UK Trade and Investment (the Sirius programme).

There is a limit on the amount of graduates that higher education institutions (HEI) can endorse each year, so most universities organise competitions to choose the best business plans for endorsement. In 2015 to 2016 UKVI set a limit of:

  • 1900 general endorsement places for graduates in any subject;
  • 100 places will be allocated to UK Trade and Investment.

  • In order to extend your visa after the first year, you need to show a letter from your endorsement body proving that you’ve made a satisfactory progress in developing your business.

    Maintenance funds: You need to show £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1890 if applying from outside the UK - this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.

    Proof of English language skills: You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply. A bachelor’s or master’s degree from a UK university is considered to be a sufficient proof.

    Option 3. Tier 1 Entrepreneur

    This visa is an alternative to or a next step after a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa.

    The initial visa is granted for three years with a right to extend it for further two years. After five years, you have a right to apply for an indefinite leave to remain.

    To apply for this visa you do not need an endorsement from an institution. So you may consider this visa if you have not got an endorsement for the Graduate Entrepreneur route. However, you do need to secure funding for your company from the approved sources, such the UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition and UK government departments(please note, from 11 July 2014 you can no longer use funding from venture capitalist firms for this purpose).

    There are two main routes within this category, to invest £50,000 or £200,000. However, after Tier 4 visa you can apply within the UK only with £50,000 investment that you obtained from approved sources. After Tier 4 student visa you are not permitted to apply with £200,000 for a leave to remain inside the UK.

    Maintenance funds: You also need to show £945 if applying from inside the UK or £3,310 if applying from outside the UK - this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days consecutive before you apply.

    Proof of English language skills: You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply. A bachelor’s or master’s degree from a UK university is considered to be a sufficient proof.

    Option 4. Tier 4 Student visa

    You can apply for another Tier 4 visa but you need to demonstrate academic progression. This means your new course should be of a higher NQF level than the previous course, e.g. master’s programme after bachelor’s programme.

    If your new course is at the same level as the previous course, it may exceptionally be considered to represent academic progression if you are applying to study at a university (HEI) and:

    a. the new course is related to the previous course for which you were given Tier 4 leave (meaning that it is either connected to the previous course, part of the same subject group or involves deeper specialisation); or

    b. your previous and new course combined, support your career aspirations.

    If you are not able to demonstrate academic progression, you can still make a new Tier 4 application from overseas.

    Option 5. Dependant visa

    You can switch from Tier 4 to a dependant visa in the UK. For example, if you partner has a Tier 2 General or Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, you can apply for a dependant visa without leaving the UK.

    It means that after graduation you can apply for Tier 4 dependent visa in the UK. However, if your partner has a Tier 4 dependant visa, they cannot switch to Tier 4 Student visa inside the UK and need to make an application from abroad.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this document is a simple summary for information purposes and should not be regarded as a substitute for immigration or legal advice. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information herein, Fastrack Education can accept no responsibility for errors or omissions.

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