Student visa (formerly called Tier 4) is to come and study in the UK. If you study at a degree level at a UK university, you can work part-time 20 hours a week during the term, full-time on vacation and full-time for 4 months after completion of the course.
Study – Work – Settlement
You can switch to the new Skilled Worker visa after completion of a degree course, or even within 3 months before that! There are benefits for employers to hire Student graduates – they can offer a New Entrant salary, which makes it more affordable for the employers and makes sponsorship more likely for the migrants. Employers are also exempt from Skills Charge (another Government fee) when sponsoring graduates. After 5 years on this visa you can qualify for settlement.
If you are a business, looking to hire and sponsor migrant workers, including graduates, please visit our page for UK Employers here.
Study – Post Study Work – Work – Settlement
There is an exciting development coming soon – a revival of a Post-Study Work visa! It existed before 2012 and was a visa for 2 years, allowing graduates to remain in the UK for 2 years – to look for work, to work as an employee or to set up a business in the UK. While we are still awaiting the details, it is expected to be available for those graduating in the summer 2021. In in that case, you could come to study for a UK degree, get a 2-year visa to look for work, then switch to the above – mentioned Skilled Worker visa. After 5 years – settlement. Post-Study Work visa won’t count towards settlement, so if you are able to find Sponsorship for a Skilled Worker visa sooner, you could start ‘your’ 5 years sooner too.
Options are a Skilled Worker visa (as above), revival of Post-Study Work visa for students graduating in the summer 2021 onwards (no details yet on whether it will apply to all graduates in all subjects). A Hong Kong BNO visa is available if you are a British National (Overseas) status holder. Also, a Talent visa for which you need a professional endorsement, which is in turn very limited as well as innovative business visas which are also based on endorsement. However, if you have a partner in the UK, you can switch to a Spouse/Partner visa and start your path to settlement in that route (instead of a work route).
Study – Stay with Partner – Settle
If you are about to complete your degree at a UK university and wish to remain with your British partner here, you can apply for a visa based on your relationship. As a Spouse or an Unmarried Partner, for the latter you need to have lived together for 2 years. If you cannot meet this rule now, you may consider getting a Post-Study Work visa first, which is for 2 years and allows to work, and then apply for a Partner visa. A new PSW visa is expected to start from summer 2021.
10 years continuous residence in the UK