Does Graduate Visa Count Towards ILR

Does Graduate Visa Count Towards ILR

The Graduate visa is a great option for Student visa holders who wish to stay in the UK after their studies and continue working or look for work to enable them to stay in the UK for longer. Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is also known as permanent residency or settlement, and allows foreign nationals who have been legally resident in the UK for a certain period to stay with no restriction, provided they continue to meet the terms of the permit.

But does the Student visa and the Graduate visa count towards the necessary time period in the UK to apply for ILR? Let’s take a look at the details so you know exactly when you’re eligible to apply to remain in the UK permanently.

Your Rights in the UK with a Graduate Visa

Your Rights in the UK with a Graduate Visa

Bachelor’s, Master’s and Postgraduate students who have completed their studies and are still in the UK can apply for the Graduate visa before their Student visa runs out to allow them to stay for longer in the UK. The Graduate visa costs £822 and grants 2 years residence for BA and MA students, and 3 years for PhD students once they’ve completed their course and their educational institution has informed the Home Office.

If successful, Graduate visa holders will then be permitted to live in the UK for the duration of their visa and:

  • Work full-time or part-time
  • Look for work
  • Be self-employed
  • Do voluntary work
  • Travel to and from the UK

Visa holders may not work as professional sportspeople or stand as a member of parliament, but most other jobs are acceptable. If you’re not sure, you can seek assistance from a visa agency or ask the relevant authority about your visa restrictions.

You can also study while in the UK with a Graduate visa, but only if your course does not qualify for a Student visa, i.e. is short-term or otherwise restricted, as Graduate visas are primarily to enable former foreign students to look for work and establish themselves in the UK.

If your dependents (partner and/or children) were in the UK with you while you studied, they can also remain in the UK while you hold a Graduate visa, but they must also pay the application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge.

You cannot extend a Graduate visa, but you can switch to another visa while in the UK if you wish to continue your residency.

Your Rights in the UK with ILR

Your Rights in the UK with ILR

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK grants individuals the right to live and work in the UK without any time restrictions. Here are the key rights and benefits associated with having ILR in the UK:

  • The right to reside indefinitely anywhere in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands
  • The right to work anywhere in the UK, in any role that doesn’t require British citizenship (such as an MP) without needing sponsorship
  • The right to study in any UK institution
  • The right to access public services including the NHS and social benefits
  • The right to unrestricted travel to and from the UK (although without spending more than 2 years outside of the UK at once)
  • The right to sponsor family members to the UK
  • The right to apply to British citizenship after one year with ILR

While those with ILR have very few restrictions on their rights in the UK, they must abide by UK laws and maintain residency in the UK to keep their settled status. If a person with indefinite leave to remain in the UK commits a serious crime, stays outside of the UK for a lengthy period or obtains residency in another country, their ILR status will be revoked.

One of the main benefits of obtaining ILR is that you can apply for British citizenship after 12 months, provided you meet the other eligibility requirements; getting British citizenship will allow you to leave the UK for as long as you like, obtain a British passport and vote in parliamentary elections.

Applying for ILR

All UK visa applications, including ILR, need to be done online. To apply for ILR you need to complete the application form, submit supporting documents and pay the relevant fees.

Documents you need for ILR include:

  • Your passport
  • Proof of sufficient knowledge of the English language
  • Proof you have passed the Life in the UK test
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Details of any time spent out of the UK
  • Your biometric residence permit (if you have one)
  • Proof of your UK address
  • Proof of sufficient finances to support yourself (and any dependants)
  • Police registration certificate detailing any prior convictions or acting as evidence of none

You may be asked for additional documents depending on your individual circumstances such as medical certificates or proof of address of your dependants if you’re applying together.

How Much It Costs

The cost of an ILR application is £2,885 for most applicants (via the 10-year, 5-year or Innovator Founder route). However, as the decision can take up to 6 months, you can also usually pay £500 to receive a decision within 5 working days, or £1000 for the super priority service to receive a decision by the end of the day or by the next working day. 

When You Can Apply for ILR

In most cases, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain after having lived in the UK for 5 years. However, you must not have spent more than 450 days outside of the UK during this time, or more than 180 days in the 12 months prior to your application. If you have, you will need to provide details of why it was necessary for you to stay outside of the country such as a family emergency, or you will have to wait until you have fulfilled the time spent in the UK requirement.

The quickest route to permanent residency is with the Innovator Founder visa as you can apply for ILR after only 3 years with this visa.

You can also apply for ILR if you have lived in the UK for 10 years continuously on valid visas. However, you must not have been outside of the UK for more than:

  • 184 days at a time
  • 548 days in total

Any time spent in Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands does not count towards 10 years for your ILR application.

Does Graduate Visa Count Towards ILR?

Does Graduate Visa Count Towards ILR?

If you plan to apply for ILR after 5 years, you must have spent 5 years in the UK with valid visas; the Graduate visa and Student visa are not valid visas to apply for ILR in this case. However, on the 10-year ILR route, you can include time spent in the UK with your Student visa and your Graduate visa.

You cannot count time spent in the UK with:

  • Standard Visitor visas
  • Short-term study visas
  • Seasonal Worker visas

Your stay in the UK must also have been continuous for the 10 years i.e. you cannot have left the country after a visa expiring and returned on a different visa, so bear this in mind when your current visas are due to expire.

Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa

Switching from a Graduate to a Skilled Worker visa is a popular choice to remain in the UK after studying and a good route to permanent residency in the UK. You can easily switch to a Skilled Worker visa if you have:

  • completed your studies
  • a job offer for a position on the list of eligible occupations
  • a job offer from an approved UK employer (sponsor)
  • a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer detailing your proposed role
  • evidence that your position will meet the minimum salary requirements for the visa

Skilled Worker visas are primarily for senior positions but they cover a range of occupations and industries, so it’s important to check the list of eligible occupations before applying for sponsorship for your visa.

Need Visa Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions

The expert team at Synergy Immigration Solutions are here to help with UK visa needs! Contact us to learn more, or read our privacy notice to see how we process your information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *