Many international students come to the UK to study, and although data shows that most return to their home country after, some wish to stay and end up settling down in the UK. In this article we have explored current data on student migration to the UK, as well as visa and immigration options for international students, based on the current information out there.
The UK is an attractive destination for students wishing to study and then work in the UK following graduation. Based on a new graduate route visa, students set to graduate in summer 2021 or later will be able to stay in the UK for 2 years following graduation, while previously they were only allowed to stay for 4 months. This rule applies to students on both bachelors and masters degree, who are on a tier 4 student visa, while PHD student will be able to stay for 3 years. Students are permitted to work in any field of interest with no minimum income level required. This provides a brilliant opportunity for students to work and build their CV without requiring a visa sponsor, providing them with a better opportunity to be able to find a job with a sponsor when their visa runs out.
Among non-EU migrants issued study visas in 2013, 4% held work visas, 10% were still on study visas, and the remaining 84% had expired visas and so would be required to leave. There were variances between national groups in their visa status, for example Indians were four times more likely than Chinese students to have work visas, and Chinese students were twice as likely as Indians to have study visas. There are different options for a student wishing to stay in the UK after their initial study visa runs out, and these will be explored below.
One way in which students can stay in the UK after their graduate route visa runs is by applying for a skilled worker visa. However, there are certain conditions for this. Firstly, your job must be eligible for this visa. Secondly, you have to be working for an employer that’s been approved by the Home Office, and thirdly, you must be paid a minimum yearly salary of at least £25,600 a year. If you do not meet this salary requirement, there may be certain jobs which accept a lower salary, specifically if you are in training or if you are under 26 years of age in certain jobs. You can find out more here.
Obtaining a work visa may prove to be difficult depending on your field of work. Employers need to pay to support an employer’s work visa, and this payment can range from £364 to £1000 for the first year depending on the size of the company, you can read more on this here. Moreover, employers must also first prove that they were unable to fill a vacancy by employing a UK national. This all makes finding a job increasingly competitive for international candidates. However, if one if unable to obtain a work visa, they are still able to remain in the UK by applying for other visas.
If students are able to, they can stay the UK by switching to a Tier 1 investor visa. To do this, you can apply for £2 million, after which you can apply for your indefinite leave to remain in the UK (ILR) after 5 years, £5 million, and apply for ILR after 3 years, and £10 million, and ILR after 2 years. Students can also apply for an ILR before commencing their studies, after which they will be granted ILR after the stated time periods.
Another option is applying for a long-term relationship visa. You can do so if you can prove that you have been living with a British citizen in a relationship akin to marriage for 2 years. However, note that immigration rules around this are very strict, and a great deal of evidence must be provided to prove that your relationship is genuine before a visa switch can take place.
The final option, if you plan on further studying, is extending your student visa to study a new bachelors or masters degree, or a PHD. To do so you must already be on a Tier 4 student visa. To obtain ILR, you must be on a student visa for 10 years.
If you wish to enter further study, you can contact us at Kampus Group for advice on available courses, and guidance on your admissions procedure.
International Student Migration to the UK – Migration Observatory – The Migration Observatory (ox.ac.uk)
Guide: the UK Post-Study Work Visa for graduates | Study.eu
UK visa sponsorship for employers: Immigration skills charge – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Skilled Worker visa: Your job – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Can I stay in the UK after my student visa expires? | Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors