Staying in Scotland after your studies

Studying in Scotland is an enriching, exciting educational experience. But if you are not quite ready to part with it after your studies, you may have options to extend your stay.

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If you have been studying in Scotland on a Student visa and your studies or stay is coming to an end but you wish to stay longer, then you may be able to apply for a visa to allow you to continue living here. You must apply for a visa to allow you to remain in Scotland and the UK before your existing visa expires.

Start-up Visa

The Start-up category is intended for high potential entrepreneurs who are seeking to start up a business in the UK for the first time.  Applicants under this category will not require to evidence access to investment funds for their business.  You will require an endorsement from an approved endorsing body which will include leading business organisations and higher education institutions. 
 
The Start-up visa will be issued for a period of 2 years.  Towards the end of this period, you will be able to apply to switch into the ‘Innovator’ category.

Innovator Visa

This category is for more experienced business people seeking to establish a business in the UK. You will generally require a minimum of £50,000 funding available to be invested into your business and will also require an endorsement from an approved endorsing body. 
 
Visas under this category will be issued for 3 years in the first instance.  Towards the end of this period, you will have the option to apply for an extension for a further 3 years, or to apply to settle permanently in the UK.

Investor visa

If you are going to make an investment of £2,000,000 or more into Scotland, you can apply for an Investor visa. You can find out about eligibility and how to apply on the Home Office website.

Skilled Worker

If you have an employer in Scotland who is willing to sponsor you for an eligible role, you will need a Skilled Worker Visa.

Find out about eligibility (including the required skills level and minimum salary requirements) and how to apply on the Home Office website.

Student visa

If you decide to continue studying in Scotland after your initial studies, you need to apply for a new Student  visa. There are limits on how long you can remain in Scotland as a student and you must show your new course represents academic progress. You can find out about eligibility and how to apply on the Home Office website.

If you want to come to Scotland to study, generally you must first secure a place at a licensed education institution, which can then sponsor you for your visa application. There are a number of additional requirements you must meet in order to obtain your student visa. For further information visit ‘Study in Scotland’ website.

Graduate Route

The Graduate Route provides a route for international students who have been awarded their degree to stay in the UK and work, or look for work, at any skill level for two years, (or three years for doctoral students). This route is unsponsored, so students do not need a job offer to apply under this route. Students can also work more flexibly and can change jobs during this time.

Students do not need to show funds or finance and do not need to demonstrate English language ability when applying. It costs £700 to apply under the route, plus the Immigration Health Surcharge (currently £624 per year). The route does not count towards settlement, but it is possible to switch from the Graduate Route to another route, such as the Skilled Worker Route if the requirements are met.

Doctorate extension scheme

The Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) is aimed at International Students who are about to be awarded their UK PhD at a UK institution. Successful applicants are provided with an additional 12 months of immigration permission to provide them with more time to find work with an employer who is a licensed sponsor, set up as an entrepreneur or gain work experience in their field.

You must use this twelve month period to gain further experience in your field, seek skilled work, or develop plans to set up as an entrepreneur. You can find out more about eligibility and how to apply on the Home Office website. This route will be replaced by the Graduate Route from summer 2021.

Spouse or partners

If you are married to or have a civil, same-sex or unmarried partner who is a British citizen, you may be able to apply for a visa to live and work in Scotland and the UK.

If you are not married or in a civil partnership, then you must have lived together for at least two years.

You will need to show that:

  • Your relationship with your spouse or partner is genuine and continuing.
  • You intend to live together for the duration of your stay.

Your British spouse or partner must also meet certain financial requirements and have an income of at least £18,600. This amount increases if you have dependent children under 18 who are not British, European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizens. Find out about eligibility and how to apply on the Home Office website.