If you are coming to the end of your studies in the UK, you might be considering the possibility of staying on in the UK to work. This section of the website explains some of the schemes that are likely to be of particular relevance to students at the end of their studies.
Contrary to some reports, the changes to the Immigration Rules in November 2015 did not prevent all international students from applying in the UK to stay under a work category. What they did do was to prevent people who are studying at certain types of institution from making their applications to move into a work category from here in the UK (so that they have to return to their home country to make an entry clearance application from there, instead).
So if you want to apply in the UK under Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), Tier 2 (General) or Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) and you are a Tier 4 student, you must have last been sponsored by:
- an institution in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution (HEI), or a UK recognised body (universities fall into this category) or
- an overseas HEI at which you were studying a short-term study abroad programme in the UK.
If you want to apply under Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) or Tier 1 (Investor) and you are a Tier 4 student, you can apply from here in the UK if you were last sponsored by one of the types of institution listed above, or alternatively:
- by an embedded college offering pathway courses or
- by an independent school or
- under Tier 4 (Child) at any kind of institution.
You can check with your sponsor whether it falls within one of these groups. If you meet all other relevant requirements, explained in this area of the website, you are able to make your application in the UK. If you have studied at a different type of institution from the ones mentioned above, you can still make your application, but it will need to be an entry clearance application made outside the UK (instead of an application made from within the UK).
Your application will in most cases include an immigration health surcharge.
The details of the schemes change frequently, and this section does not provide a list of all schemes. For full details of all the options that could be available to you, see the Home Office website
Within the information about each scheme described in this area of the website, you will also find links to the relevant Immigration Rules, guidance for applicants and Home Office caseworkers, and the appropriate application forms.
If you are thinking about making an application under any of these schemes, and you want advice about the application, make an appointment with either an International Student Adviser or a Careers Adviser if they can offer such help. Some law centres, and other advice centres, have immigration specialists who will provide some basic advice free of charge. Some private solicitors also specialise in immigration law, although they will charge you a fee for their advice.
Under many of the schemes, your spouse or civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner and children can apply to stay in the UK with you, or join you here.
- For some of the schemes, you might have to return to your home country to apply from there. This is because most of the schemes have strict rules about who is allowed to 'switch' from Tier 4 or from another immigration category into the scheme
- For many of the schemes, you must have successfully completed your course before you can apply to 'switch' into the scheme.
- If you want to stay in the UK under one of these schemes, you must make your application before your current permission to be here as a student expires.
- If you have been sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency for your studies, most of the schemes require that you obtain their written consent before you apply.