What's next after Tier 4 Student Visa?

This page is for those who have a Tier 4 Student visa now and wonder what to do after completing the course. It is no longer possible to apply for a Tier 1 Post-Study Work visa or Tier 1 General (commonly known as HSMP), which used to be the next steps in the past.

Available options:
 

Please note: below is a simplified summary only, for an advice for your individual circumstances we advise to book our ADVICE SESSION, which can be conducted over email or at our office in the City of London.

1) Tier 2 (General) sponsored work visa:

For those who are lucky to have a job offer from a licensed Sponsor (employer) and a Certificate of Sponsorship. In this case, when switching from Tier 4 Student to Tier 2 General inside the UK, there is no annual limit and no need for the employer to advertise the job first (ie no need for a Resident Labour Market Test). The job still has to be at a relatively high skill level (NQF6) and pay appropriate salary as on the Code of Practice (but minimum £20,800). To qualify for this (Tier 2 without advertising the job) you need to have completed your degree, a letter and transcript would be enough, no need to wait for a degree certificate. If you have not completed your degree yet then your Tier 2 Sponsor needs to advertise the job first and you'd have to apply outside the UK, which also means an annual limit of Tier 2 General places per year.

The outcome is a visa for up to 3 years or can be even for up to 5 years for a higher fee (if the Sponsor is willing to assign a certificate for that duration). Then can be extended, so that the total stay in this category is maximum 6 years. After 5 years (and a salary of £35,000 for those applying in 2016) you could apply for permanent residency. If you don't settle and 'your' 6 years have run out then you would have to leave the UK, wait for 12 months outside the UK, and only then re-enter Tier 2 category, effectively starting from the beginning. For more on this category please visit the TIER 2 WORK PERMIT page.

Switching from a Tier 4 to Tier 2 inside the UK can be done on PREMIUM SAME-DAY SERVICE and we can help with appointments as well as, naturally, with the checking documents and completing the application form.

2) Another Tier 4 Student visa:

For those who wish to continue their studies in the UK. You need a new Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and there has to be academic progression, such as from Bachelor to Master. There is an overall limit of 5 years on studies at a degree level (for most disciplines) and an overall limit of 3 years on studies below degree level. This application can also be done on PREMIUM SAME-DAY SERVICE
 

3) Tier 1 (Entrepreneur):

For those with entrepreneurial spirit and access to £200,000 in funds which will be available to start a new business or to join/buy an existing business in the UK. Students switching to an Entrepreneur visa can only submit applications outside the UK. In-country switching is only allowed for those who have £50,000 from the specified sources, such as a grant from a UK government department. The outcome is a visa for 3 years, which then can be extended for another 2 years and after this you could apply for permanent residency. For more on this category please visit the TIER 1 ENTREPRENEUR page.

 

4) Spouse/Partner Visa on the basis of a relationship with a British citizen or with a person who has a permanent residency in the UK:

Spouse by definition have to be married and can switch from Tier 4 to a Spouse visa after the marriage. This also covers civil partners (same-sex partners who registered their relationship at a Register Office). It does not matter if your visa expires soon and/or you only recently got married.

More commonly in such cases, we are asked about the above scenario but for Unmarried Partners (partners who are together but not married). In this case you can apply if you have lived together (lived, not just dating) for 2 years AND can prove it with the documents, such as bills or bank statements showing you lived at the same address. This (living together) can be in the UK or abroad or a combination of countries - as long as you have lived together, at any location.

The outcome is a visa for 2.5 years (from 9 July 2012), with the right to work for any employer or to be self-employed. After this you can get extension (same Spouse visa again) for another 2.5 years. After total of 5 years on Spouse/Partner visas you could apply for permanent residency.

For more on this category please visit the SPOUSE/PARTNER VISA – AFTER 9 JULY 2012 page. Switching from Tier 4 to a Spouse/Partner visa can also be done on PREMIUM SAME-DAY SERVICE and we can help with appointments as well as, naturally, with the checking documents and completing the application form.

5) Spouse/Partner visa on the basis of a relationship with a European (non-UK) citizen:

Same rules apply as above (married; or if not married- lived together for 2 years) but the outcome is a visa for 5 years, after which you can apply for permanent residency.

This is a very good category. The government fee is very small comparing to a fee for spouses of British citizens. There is no English language and no Financial requirements. A visa allows to work for any employer or be self-employed. The only downside is such applications are only postal (no same-day service available) and may take up to 6 months, although based on the recent experience it is taking approx 3 months.

For more on this category please visit the FAMILY MEMBERS page in the VISAS UNDER EUROPEAN LAW section.

6) Long Residence 10 years:

If you happened to live in the UK for 10 years, legally, on any visas continuously, then you could apply for permanent residency on that basis. 

7) Dependent visa:

If your spouse/partner has his/her own visa, such as a Tier 2 visa, then you can obtain a Dependant visa,ie a visa 'dependent' on your spouse/partner's main visa. From 1 October 2013 such switching became possible from inside the UK.

Contact usnow or read our Testimonialspage.