Many people who are in the UK on a student visa wish to stay in the UK when their studies finish. A Tier 4 General Student Visa allows anyone who is 16 or above to study in the UK provided they meet other eligibility requirements. But what happens when you want to stay in the UK for a longer period and need to switch to a new type of visa?
How to switch from a Student Visa to a Tier 1 UK visa
One way to stay in the UK after your studies are over is to switch to a UK Tier 1 Visa. Previously, it was possible for Tier 4 student migrants to switch to a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa on the basis of having access to £200,000 to invest in a business in the UK. However, since 2012, the scenario has changed. Now, you can only switch from Tier 4 Student Visa to Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa if you can show that you have access to a minimum of £50,000 from a specified source. These specified sources are registered venture capital firms, the UK government, devolved administration departments or listed seed funding competitions. If you can do this then you can switch to a UK Tier 1 visa, stay in the UK as an entrepreneur for 3 years and then apply for an extension.
Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa
If you are unable to access £50,000 from one of these specified sources, you can instead switch to a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa.
This visa is designed for those graduates who have been identified by a UK Higher Education institution as having developed world class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills. This visa category allows such individuals to extend their stay in the UK after graduation so that they can create one (or more!) businesses in the UK.
When you get leave to remain in the UK as a Tier 1 graduate entrepreneur visa, you are allowed to stay in the UK for 2 years. After this 2 year period, you can apply to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for leave to remain as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur.
- The applicant must be endorsed by a UK Higher Educational institution. This educational institution either has to be approved by UKBA as a Highly Trusted educational institution under Tier 4 of the Points Based System, or is an A-rated sponsor under Tiers 2 or 5 of the Points Based System.
- The endorsement must state specifically that the applicant has been assessed.
- The applicant should show that they have a genuine, credible and innovative business idea.
- Applicants need to show that they will spend the majority of their working time developing business ventures.
- The applicant must fulfill the maintenance fund requirements; this can be proven by providing bank statements.
If the applicant was awarded grant of leave as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) previously, then they can stay in the UK for 1 year. After that, they can apply for an extension for 1 year. After this year, if they have made satisfactory progress in developing their business, then in all likelihood will quality for leave to remain as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur.