If you’ve come here to study and liked it so much you now want to stay in the UK, here are some ideas that may help you overcome immigration barriers.
Student visa does not normally lead to settlement. You are not allowed to stay in the UK for more than five years studying at a degree level or below. This does not include the time you may have spent in the UK studying as a child before you turned 18. There are exceptions to this rule, such as for studying medicine, law, music or architecture. And there is no time limit for studying at PhD level. But unless you studied in the UK as a child and then progressed to a university, you are unlikely to study in the UK for a continuous period of ten years and you will have to consider further options.
There is also the Long residence rule which allows you to get indefinite leave to remain after 1o years of continuous residence.
Continuous residence does not mean you cannot leave the country, but there are a few rules worth noting if this route is of interest:
- You should not be out of the country for more than 540 days in the relevant 10-year period
- Absences of more than six months interrupt continuity of residence
- If you leave the country with a valid visa and return with a new visa within six months, continuity of residence is not interrupted
- If you overstay your visa even by one day, continuity of residence is interrupted, unless you were granted extension of leave to remain while still in the UK
If you believe you may qualify for settlement on the basis of long residence, it is recommended that you seek legal advice to confirm your entitlement. An immigration lawyer will make sure that you have not wasted the opportunity.
Best options to stay in the UK on completion of studies
This is available to all UK graduates from qualifying universities at a degree level or above. If you have successfully completed your course before you Student visa expired, your will have the option to extend your stay for a further two years, or three years if you have studied at PhD level.
With the Graduate visa you will have the right to work in the UK and explore employment options available to you.
Three work permitting routes to settlement to consider after studies
Skilled worker and Scale-up Worker routes
These two work permitting routes require sponsorship from an employer. You can switch to either of these two routes from a Student visa or you can take up the Graduate route first and then switch into the skilled worker or scale-up worker route.
Both these routes allow you to qualify for indefinite leave to remain after five years. If you rely on these five years as the qualifying period you do not have to worry about the total number of days you were absent from the UK, but you have to make sure that you are not out of the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 months.
You may qualify for indefinite leave to remain under the long residence rule, i.e. having reached 10 years of lawful residence, before you qualify for indefinite leave to remain under the 5-year route as a worker. In this case, you can apply earlier, but if you have dependants in the UK, this may set the clock back for them.
Global talent visa
Global talent is another option open to you if you are a potential leader in academia, arts and culture or digital technology. This route does not require sponsorship from an employer. You will, however, need an endorsement from an approved endorsing body unless you have won one of those prestigious prizes which allow you to apply without an endorsement.
Whichever option you choose, remember that one visa refusal may set the clock back for you and you will have to count time afresh. This is why professional help with the visa application is so important.
If you are planning to stay in the UK and need support in making this happen, get in touch and find out how we can help.
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