Employers wishing to employ a UK PhD student after they have completed their course may now have the opportunity to do so without having to sponsor the migrant worker.  From 6 April 2013, students who are within 60 days of completing their PhD will be able to seek sponsorship from their current Higher Educational Institute (HEI) to extend their Tier 4 visa for a further 12 months with the ability to work full time (except for work as a doctor or dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson or coach).

Employers will be able to check the migrant’s biometric residence permit to confirm that they are a Tier 4 (General) Student on the Doctorate Extension Scheme and permitted to work full-time after their course.  The conditions of leave will also be set out in full on the accompanying approval letter.   Students on the Doctorate Extension Scheme will also be able to switch into the Tier 2 category from within the UK.

Tier 4 HEIs should ensure that their existing student terms and conditions are amended to ensure that they are able to continue to meet their sponsor obligations in relation to these students.