Study - Work - Settle in the UK

UK visas that lead to Permanent Residency in the United Kingdom through studying and working.

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 – Graduate route – Work – Settlement   

Graduate route visa: available to graduates from UK universities, who have completed a degree course, ie minimum Bachelor level. A visa for 2 years (3 years for PhD students), allowing to work for any employer at any skill level without sponsorship, as well as to set up a business in the UK.  You can come to study for a UK degree, then get a 2-year visa to look for work, then switch to the above – mentioned Skilled Worker visa. After 5 years – settlement. Graduate 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. It is also a useful visa to buy time to complete 2 years of living together to qualify for an Unmarried Partner visa, which also leads to settlement. 

What’s next after Student visa?


Options are the above-mentioned Graduate route; Skilled Worker visa if you are able to secure sponsorship from a licensed UK employer; Hong Kong BNO visa 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 can get a Graduate route visa first, for 2 years with the right to work, and then apply for a Partner visa.


10 years continuous residence in the UK

 If you have spent 10 years, continuously and legally, in the UK on any visas, you can qualify for settlement. Common paths include study at school, study at university, working, settlement after 10 years. It can even be just 10 years of studying because studies at a school level aren’t included in the cap. There are further requirements to meet, such as very strict limit on absences from the UK during this time, which can be (and often is) a dealbreaker, but even then, there may be a point where, with more extension, you can reach it soon!