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 as a Tier 4 (General) student 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.

Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa

If you were granted a Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa before 6 April 2012, you can remain in Scotland until the date of expiry on your visa. However, you cannot renew it because these types of visas are no longer issued. If you want to stay in Scotland and the UK after the date your Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa expires, you need to consider other visa or permit options to remain in the UK.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa

If after you graduate you wish to extend your stay to establish a business in the UK, you may be able to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa. You need an endorsement from your recognised place of study. The Home Office website provides more information about eligibility and how to apply for a Graduate Entrepreneur visa.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa

From a Tier 4 (General) visa you have two options:

  • You can invest £200,000 into a new or existing UK based business
  • If the funds are from either a registered venture capital firm regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), or one or more UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions endorsed by UKTI, or a UK government or devolved government department then you can invest £50,000

From a Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa you can either invest £200,000 or a reduced level of £50,000. However on the reduced amount there are restrictions on the skill level of the business and the role that you can play in it.

If you are investing at the reduced level, you must also have established a business in the last three months and you must provide evidence that the business is trading.

If you are looking to switch from a Tier 4 (General) visa to a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa you may have to leave the UK in order to make your application. Whether you can apply from inside the UK will depend on the source of your funds.

Tier 1 (Investor) visa

If you are going to make an investment of £2,000,000 or more into Scotland, you can apply for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa. You can find out about eligibility and how to apply on the Home Office website.

Tier 2 (General)

If you have an employer in Scotland who is willing to sponsor you because there is a gap in the Scottish workforce that cannot be filled by someone else in the European Economic Area, you need a Tier 2 visa (General).

In addition to sponsoring you, your employer may need to satisfy the Resident Labour Market Test, proving that no other person in the EEA has the skills to do the specified job as well as you. Find out about eligibility and how to apply on the Home Office website.

Tier 4 (General) visa

If you decide to continue studying in Scotland after your initial studies, you need to apply for a new Tier 4 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.

Tier 4 (Doctorate extension scheme)

If you are in the UK studying a PhD you have not completed by April 2013 or started after April 2013, you can stay for a further twelve months after your course completion date. 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.

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 or European Economic Area (EEA) citizens. Find out about eligibility and how to apply on the Home Office website.

EEA (European) family members

If your spouse or partner is a citizen of another country in the European Economic Area (EEA), you may be able to apply to remain in Scotland and the UK.

You must prove that you are in a genuine relationship. Find out about eligibility and how to apply on the Home Office website.