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Immigration Options for Students Graduating in the UK in 2020 amid COVID-19 concerns

Universities across the UK are taking different approaches to how and when final year students will complete their degrees in light of COVID-19 restrictions. Many in the UK have further uncertainties about what they will be able to do after their studies are finished and are particularly worried about the pandemic will affect graduate recruitment and therefore their own long term futures in the UK. In this article we will look at some of the options that are available for Students visa holders who complete their studies who want to remain in the UK. 

Further Study

Depending on the level of study completed and the amount of time spent in the student category, an individual may be able to apply for further studies in the UK.  In order to qualify for an extension of stay as a Student visa holder they would need to have an offer from an educational institution in the UK, the funds to pay for their fees and maintenance costs and be able to satisfy the Home Office that they are a genuine student.

Start-up visa

The Start-up visa category is for individuals who want to run a business in the UK, though they will also have the right to work for other businesses too. To apply in this category, a person mustn’t have run a business in the UK before, and will need to have their business idea endorsed as being innovative, viable and scalable. Lots of higher education institutions in the UK are able to endorse applicants, so recent graduates may wish to check with their university if this is something they can offer. 

Innovator visa

Much like the Start-up category, an applicant for an Innovator visa will need to demonstrate that they have a business idea which is innovative, viable and scalable. However these are assessed at a higher standard than for those in the start-up category. An applicant will also need to demonstrate that they have access to at least £50,000 and if successful, they will only be able to work for their own business, rather than having the flexibility afforded to those in the start-up category. 

Global Talent visa

The Global Talent visa route is for individuals who are emerging leaders or already recognised as leaders within the field of their work. This could include academic work, but also those in the digital sector, the arts, fashion, and architecture. This category generally requires some professional work experience or an advanced degree, so may not be suitable for those who are just completing their first degree if they have not worked prior to their studies.

Skilled Worker Sponsored Work

The Skilled Worker category is for individuals with a job offer from a company in the UK. The company will need to have a Sponsor Licence to allow it to sponsor migrants in the UK, but may be able to apply for one if this is not already in place. There are specific requirements about the skill level for the job and the salary that must be paid, in order for the individual to be sponsored. 

Investor Visa

To be a Tier 1 Investor in the UK, an individual must have access to £2 million, which is available to them to invest into active UK companies. The money should either have been held in their name for a period of two years prior to application, or additional evidence will be required to demonstrate the source of the funds. The money must be invested in specified ways. 


While of course there is much uncertainty at the moment, there are many routes for new graduates to remain in the UK following completion of their studies. 

In addition to the above routes, depending on individual circumstances, there may be other options for graduates, for example, if they have already spent a ten year period in the UK, it might be possible to apply for long residence, or there are specific routes for individuals in relationships with British, Settled or European partners. There are also some temporary worker categories and specific routes for individuals of certain countries.  In order to determine the most appropriate course of action for any individual it is always worth reviewing your full circumstances and to take into account all possible options. 

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice regarding an application for a Start-up, Innovator, Study, Talent, Work, Investor visa contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


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