My student visa is expiring, what are my options of staying in the UK?
Many people who are studying in the UK on a Tier 4 Student Visa will want to know what their options are at the end of their studies. The information available can be confusing and misleading, but in this article we are going to try and clear all of this up. By the end of this article you will have a clear idea about what your options are at the end of your Tier 4 Student Visa period. With this information, you can plot out your next move and decide whether you want to stay in the UK or move on.
Can I Stay In The UK At The End Of My Tier 4 Student Visa?
There are several options for staying in the UK at the end of a Tier 4 Student Visa. The main routes available to staying in the UK at the end of your studies are either switching to an alternative visa or extending your current visa in order to study further. It is common for those who are studying in the UK to wish to further their studies. The Tier 4 Student Visa offers that option by allowing you to extend. It is also reasonably common for those with eligible qualifications to stay in the UK and switch to a Tier 2 General Visa. We cover the process for both of these options further down the article.
One thing you must not do at the end of your studies is simply just stay in the UK. While many people believe this is a suitable option, they are undoubtedly doing their future prospects significant harm. This is especially true if they want to stay in the UK for the long-term. If you ever need to apply for a different visa later on in life, overstaying your student visa will lead to your almost certain rejection later on. The Home Office takes a dim view as far as visa overstaying is concerned and you should avoid it at all costs.
Can I Study Further At The End Of My Tier 4 Student Visa?
Yes. The Tier 4 Student Visa offers you the opportunity to extend your studies. You still need to keep within the eligibility criteria for the visa, but as long as you satisfy the criteria, you will be able to take on a new course and extend your study.
You need to make an online application within 6 months of receiving your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). You will need to pay the application fee and also the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) in advance in order to cover your stay in the UK. You should then receive your Tier 4 Student Visa extension allowing you to continue with your studies in the UK.
Is It Possible To Apply For Indefinite Leave To Remain In The UK At The End Of My Studies?
You will not be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) at the end of your Tier 4 Student Visa period. This is due to the Tier 4 Student Visa not being a suitable visa route for settling. You cannot use the time that you have been in the UK on a Tier 4 Student Visa towards your Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) requirements, you will need to switch visa routes in order to start building up the five years required in order to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
Can I Switch To An Alternative Visa At The End Of My Tier 4 Student Visa?
If you have a UK bachelor's or master's degree, or a professional graduate diploma of education or at least one year of a PhD, you will be able to apply to switch to a Tier 2 General Visa. Under this route, the employer can also skip the resident labour market test which can make the process very straightforward and gives Tier 4 Student Visa holders something of an advantage. For employers, taking on an eligible Tier 4 Student Visa holder may be very beneficial: being able to skip the labour test gives them one less thing to worry about.
Switching to a Tier 2 General Visa is one of the better options for those looking to stay in the UK at the end of their studies on a Tier 4 Student Visa. Opportunities to stay in the UK at the end of your Tier 4 Student Visa are limited, and this represents an excellent option that can eventually lead to you gaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). There is also the option of switching to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa route. This option has very specific seed funding criteria in order to satisfy the requirements of the Home Office. Please check out gov.uk for more information.
You may also be able to switch to a Spouse Visa if you are married to an eligible person. In this instance an eligible person is a British citizen, a person who has gained Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK or someone who has either refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. If you are in this position, you can simply switch visa routes after getting married and will no longer be subject to the same controls that you would be under a Tier 4 Student Visa. If you would like to discuss the spouse visa in more detail, please get in touch and our team can help.
Where Can I Get More Help?
If you need more help with your options at the end of your Tier 4 Student Visa, please get in touch and our experienced immigration solicitors can help you to figure out what to do next. We have a wealth of experience helping students in the UK to settle their futures in the UK and can certainly help you. So get in touch today and talk to our team about your options for staying in the UK at the end of you visa period.