Visa Information for After Your Studies

If you are coming to the end of your studies at the University of Wolverhampton you may be considering your options for your next steps. You may be interested in completing further study, working in the UK, or you may just want to attend your graduation ceremony and return home.

If you are interested in further study at the University of Wolverhampton the first step will usually be to apply for the course you are interested in. Once that is done we will be happy to help you think about whether you can extend your visa in the UK, or if you will have to go home first, the requirements you will have to meet for the visa application, and how to submit your application. You can contact the Visa and Immigration Support Team on visa-enquiries@wlv.ac.uk  for more advice about the visa requirements to support further study.

There are currently limited work options available in the UK but please see further information below on visas that may be of interest to you. The Doctorate Extension Scheme visa is only available for PhD students.

Visas for graduation

The Visa and Immigration Support Team at the University can provide some general advice to help you and/or your guests apply for a Standard Visitor visa to attend a graduation ceremony.

We do not issue invitation letters, but you can request letters from your Faculty (through e:vision) to confirm the details of your ceremony, which may help during the visa application process.

Contact the team on visa-enquiries@wlv.ac.uk to receive an information sheet to help you, or if you have any questions about the process.

Visa for yourself

If you need to apply for a standard visitor visa in order to attend your graduation ceremony you need to consider the following

  • You must not do any work (paid or unpaid) while you are in the UK on a standard Visitor visa
  • You must not do any study on a standard visitor visa that exceeds the 30 days permitted (if you have a re-sit exam or a re-take module to complete please contact the Visa and Immigration Support team for advice about applying for a Short-term study visa)
  • You will not be able to extend your Visitor visa. It will be valid for a maximum of 6 months.
  • You will not be able to switch into a different visa category in the UK
  • Visitors are not entitled to free treatment on the National Health Service (NHS), so you must arrange travel insurance before coming to the UK

Visas for your guests

The above conditions also apply to any guests you invite to come to the UK for your graduation ceremony.

You are usually allowed to invite two guests to attend the graduation ceremony. Extra tickets will only be released once everyone has confirmed whether they are attending and will be using their allocation of two guests.

Applying for the visa

The Standard Visitor visa application form is available through the Home Office website for most countries.

The Home Office standard processing time is 3 weeks but we suggest you allow at least a month for the visa to be issued. You can check the processing times for your country on the Home Office website.

Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES)

If you are currently enrolled on a PhD, or other doctorate-level qualification, and on a Tier 4 visa at the University of Wolverhampton, you may be able to apply to stay in the UK for an additional 12 months at the end of your course, under the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES).

A DES visa allows you to work in the UK almost without restriction. Many students use it to gain practical work experience or to work on a self-employed basis. The University will continue to be your Tier 4 sponsor you if wish to apply for this scheme and we will continue to have monitoring responsibilities for you throughout the time your DES visa is valid.

If you are coming to the end of your PhD and want to apply for the DES visa, the Visa & Immigration Support Team will assist you with your application. The timing of the application is important. You can only apply before you are awarded your PhD, but it cannot be more than 60 days before this date. We suggest you talk to the Visa and Immigration Support Team before you complete your viva so we have time to help you prepare.

Other things to consider

Money matters

You will need to maintain £2,030 in an acceptable bank account for 28 days before you can apply. The Visa and Immigration Support Team will check your bank statements and make sure you meet all the requirements before we assign a CAS for you to apply.

Family

It is possible to apply for dependants to accompany you while you are on the DES visa. If you would like to include dependants in your application they will need £1,360 (per person) in an acceptable bank account for 28 days before you can apply.

When you can start working

Once you have successfully completed your PhD and received confirmation of your award you will be able to work almost without restriction. This is also the case if your DES application is still being considered by the Home Office. The only restrictions are that you cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.

You can work on a self-employed basis on the DES visa.

Contact with your Tier 4 (DES) sponsor (ie the University of Wolverhampton)

The University must contact you at least twice while you are on the DES visa. We will explain this to you when we help you apply for the visa. We will usually email you to ask for an update, and a response by email is usually sufficient to ensure you are compliant with the terms of the visa.

Extensions

DES visas are valid for approximately twelve months, depending on the expected end date of your studies and the date the visa is issued. The visa cannot be extended. However, you may be eligible to switch to a Tier 2 visa if you have found an employer willing to sponsor you, or the Start-Up scheme if you are self-employed. We expect the UK Immigration System to change in 2021 so there may be other options we are not yet aware of.

Start-up visa

What is the Start-up Scheme?

The Start-up scheme is aimed at anyone who wants to start a business in the UK (and is not a UK/EU/EEA citizen). Start-up visas are valid for two years, and allow qualifying applicants to work in the UK on developing your own business plan, once the university has confirmed you have a viable business proposal, and once you have received the visa to do so.

It is possible to switch to this visa from a number of different current immigration categories, and you can also apply from outside the UK. This information is for students of the University of Wolverhampton on Tier 4 visas. If you are studying or working at the university and have a different immigration status you can contact us for further advice.

Please be aware the University of Wolverhampton will only consider applications for endorsement from our own students or employees. We cannot accept external applications at this time.

Endorsing body and business plan

The University of Wolverhampton will be your endorsing body, which is similar to being your Tier 4 sponsor. You will need to complete the university’s application process, which includes submitting a business plan to the Enterprise team. If your proposal meets the following criteria you may be eligible to be endorsed by the university:

  • Innovation: The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage
  • Viability: The applicant has, or is actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business
  • Scalability: There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets

The university has a limit of 10 endorsements per year (running from 6th April – 5th April) so we expect the process to be competitive. We will also check that you meet the visa requirements before we confirm your endorsement.

If we confirm your endorsement you will be issued with a unique endorsement reference number on a letter, which will support your visa application. The Visa and Immigration team can help you with the visa application once you have received the endorsement and will have some responsibilities to you and the Home Office while you are on the visa.

How to apply for an endorsement

You will need to prepare your business proposal and complete a ‘Start Up Visa Expression of Interest Form’. These forms are available from the Visa and Immigration Support Team or the Enterprise team. Once the form is completed you will return it to enterprise@wlv.ac.uk for assessment.

The Enterprise team will advise you on the next steps of the application process.

How to apply for the visa Doctorate Extension Scheme

You will need the following documents/information in order to meet the requirements of the visa application.

Endorsement

If your business proposal is successful you will be issued with a unique endorsement reference number on a letter, which must be submitted with your visa application

Qualification

The start-up scheme does not require any specific type or level of qualification but the University of Wolverhampton is only able to endorse our own students/employees

English language

Your knowledge of English must be at least at level B2. You will meet this requirement if you have been granted a Tier 4 visa to study at degree level or above since April 2011. If you have not had a Tier 4 visa please contact us for advice on how you can meet the English requirements

Maintenance

You must have £945 in your own personal bank account for at least 90 consecutive days before you can apply for your visa. The closing balance must be dated less than 31 days before you apply.

It is possible to apply for the visa inside the UK, or outside the UK. If you apply from your home country the maintenance requirements are different. You may also need other documents such as tuberculosis test results or translations of any documents not in English.

Other things to consider

Family

It is possible to apply for dependants to accompany you while you are on the visa. If you would like to include dependants in your application they will need £630 (per person) in an acceptable bank account for 90 days before they can apply.

When you can start working on your business

If you are applying for the Start-up scheme from a Tier 4 visa you must not set up or operate your business until you receive your Start-Up visa. If you are switching from a different immigration category please contact us for more advice.

Contact with the endorsing body (i.e. the University)

The University must contact you after 6 months and again after 12 months of you being on the visa. When we contact you we must be satisfied that you are continuing to work on your business plan. You will be expected to be able to demonstrate reasonable progress with your original ideas. If you are not pursuing your original ideas then you must be pursuing new ideas that are also innovative, viable and scalable, so you may need to do the assessment process again to confirm we can continue to endorse you.

Extensions

Start-up visas are valid for two years and cannot be extended. However, you may be eligible to switch into the Innovator scheme at the end of the two years. There is more information about the innovator visa on the Home Office website.

Need more information?

Careers, Enterprise & The Workplace: enterprise@wlv.ac.uk

Visa and Immigration Support Team: visa-enquiries@wlv.ac.uk

Home Office information: www.gov.uk/start-up-visa

UK Council for International Student Affairs: https://ukcisa.org.uk/Information--Advice/Working/Working-after-studies          

Moving into employment: Tier 2 or Tier 5

 

If you want to stay in the UK to work after your studies you will usually need to find an employer who can sponsor you under Tier 2 or Tier 5.

The employer will need to have a licence issued by the Home Office in order to employ you. You can see a register of companies who hold a Tier 2 and/or Tier 5 licence on the Home Office website, as this may help you consider which companies to look at when you are ready to look for work.

There are different sub-categories of visa under Tier 2 and Tier 5 that may be of interest to you. You can see more information about the different work visa categories on the Home Office website.

Visa applications

The company’s HR team should be able to help you apply for the Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa if they wish to sponsor you. There are many different requirements you will need to meet, depending on the category of visa you are applying for.

For specific advice about the requirements of each visa, please refer to the Home Office website.

For general advice about the different visa categories and to help prepare you for the application, you may like to refer to the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website and their information on the options for working after studies.

Money matters

You will usually need to maintain £945 in an acceptable bank account for 90 days before you can apply for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa.

Family

It may be possible to apply for dependants to accompany you while you are on a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa, but this may depend on the sub-category of visa you are applying for. The funds requirement for family members is £630 per person and the money must be held in an acceptable account for 90 days before the date of the application.

When you can start working

Once you have successfully received your new visa you will be expected to work for the company who has sponsored you. If you are not sure if you can work while your application is being processed please seek further advice from your employer.

Extensions

It may be possible to extend your Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa, but this will depend on the sub-category you apply for, and whether your sponsor wishes to continue to sponsor you. It is not possible to extend a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa. We expect the UK Immigration System to change in 2021 so there may be other options available in future that we are not yet aware of