Clarkslegal LLP - Solicitors in Reading and London

Legal Updates

Routes for graduates

15 July 2014 #Employment


Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.

The number of international graduates in the UK is increasing; approximately 219,000 study related visas were issued in 2013. However, once migrants have completed their studies, many will want to stay in the UK.  This note sets out some of the visa routes that graduates can explore if they want to stay in the UK post study.

Tier 2 (General) 

What is it?

Under this route graduates from outside the European Economic Area can be sponsored by licensed employers (sponsors) to carry out skilled jobs that cannot be filled by settled workers.  

Leave to remain in the UK under this route may be granted for up to 3 years with the ability to extend at the end of that period (for a further 3 years).  Also since 6 April 2014, it is possible to apply for leave for up to 5 years initially (if the individual pays a higher fee).  Subject to eligibility requirements, the graduate can apply for settlement after 5 years.

What are the eligibility requirements?

In order to be eligible a graduate must: 

  • have a certificate of sponsorship reference number, i.e. the certificate that is issued by the licensed sponsor
  • have an ‘appropriate’ salary[1]
  • meet the English language requirement
  • have £945 in savings (for applications on or after 1 July 2014).  However, this does not apply if the sponsor is fully approved (i.e. A-rated) and has confirmed that the individual won’t claim benefits during his/her stay 

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) visa  

What is it?

The Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) visa can be used by sponsored graduates from participating countries[2] and territories who wish to experience life in the UK.  The graduate’s government/ authority acts as a sponsor.

This route is short term as the graduate may only remain in the UK for a maximum period of 2 years, no further extension can be granted. This route does not count towards settlement.

What are the eligibility requirements?

In order to be eligible a graduate must: 

  • be resident in one of the participating countries (see footnote 2), or a British overseas citizen, or a British overseas territories citizen, or a British national (overseas)
  • be aged 18-30
  • have £1,890  in savings (for applications on or after 1 July 2014)
  • have a certificate of sponsorship (for citizens of Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan). The other countries listed have Deemed Sponsorship Status; therefore, no certificate is required.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa 

What is it?

Although very few individuals will qualify under this category; it applies to graduates who are endorsed by UK Higher Education Institutions and UK Trade and Investment as having developed business ideas and entrepreneurial skills enabling them to establish a business in the UK. The endorsement must show that the individual:

  • has a genuine and credible business idea; and
  • will spend the majority of his/her working time on developing business ventures

However, only certain Higher Education Institutions can endorse migrants. 

A graduate can remain in the UK for a maximum period of 2 years under this route (i.e. an initial period of one year with the option to extend by a further year); this route does not count towards settlement.  

What are the eligibility requirements? 

In order to be eligible a graduate must: 

  • have a UK recognised bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD
  • be endorsed by an authorised UK Higher Education Institution (in the past 3 months)
  • have £945 in savings if applying inside the UK or £1,890 in savings if applying outside the UK (for applications on or after 1 July 2014). 
  • meet the English language requirement
  • have permission to remain in the UK from a financial sponsor  

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa 

What is it? 

Although perhaps less commonly used by graduates, this route is open to migrants who want to invest in the UK by setting up or taking over, including being actively involved in, the running of one or more businesses in the UK. 

Entry is granted for 3 years and 4 months (with the possibility to extend by a further 2 years). This route can lead to settlement after 5 years (subject to eligibility requirements).

What are the eligibility requirements? 

In order to be eligible a graduate must: 

  • be aged at least 16 years old
  • have access to at least £50,000[3] worth of funds (being held in one or more regulated financial institution and free to spend in the UK);
  • have £945 in savings if applying inside the UK or £3,310 in savings if applying outside the UK (for applications on or after 1 July 2014).  
  • meet the English language requirement 

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) 

What is it?

If the graduate is endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in the field of science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts, then s/he may be able to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa.  

If successful, the graduate can remain in the UK for 3 years and 4 months. The graduate may extend the visa by a further 2 years and therefore can apply for settlement after 5 years (subject to eligibility requirements).

What are the eligibility requirements? 

In order to apply, the graduate will need to apply to the Home Office to get endorsed as a leader or emerging leader in the relevant field of study. The application for endorsement must be considered by:

  • Arts Council England
  • British Academy
  • Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Royal Society
  • Tech City UK

The graduate must also meet the English language requirement

Conclusion

Whilst the above are the main routes for graduates, there may also be other visas that can be utilised based on individual circumstances. Therefore, if you would like more information, please feel free to get in touch and we will gladly discuss these options further. 


[1] Since 6 April 2014 the minimum salary for a Tier 2 (General) visa increased from £20,300 to £20,500. Graduates must also be paid the appropriate rate for their role (according to the standard occupational classification code guidance). 

[2] Currently Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan

[3] Different rules apply if the applicant has more money to invest

For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at employmentunit@clarkslegal.com by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.

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