12th Feb 2018

Tier 4 Students switching into a Tier 2 (General) visa

After completing their studies in the UK, a Tier 4 student can switch into a Tier 2 (General) visa which will enable them to work in a skilled role for a UK sponsor.  The role must meet the skill level, salary and other sponsorship requirements.  In order to be eligible to switch from a Tier 4 visa into a Tier 2 (General) visa, students will need to meet all of the following requirements.

  • They must apply for their Tier 2 (General) visa from inside the UK
  • Their Tier 4 (General) visa must be valid at the time of applying
  • They must have completed their course for which their Tier 4 visa was issued*
  • They cannot leave the UK between graduating and obtaining their Tier 2 (General) visa


*A student must provide evidence to show that they have successfully completed their course or, if applying after the 11th January 2018 and are still waiting on their final results, they will just need to provide evidence that they have completed all of the work for their course (such as a letter of confirmation from their Tier 4 university).  In this case, the employer will likely still need to see evidence that the student has successfully passed their course before the Tier 2 employment starts.


Leaving the UK:

If a Tier 4 student is planning to switch into a Tier 2 (General) visa, it is vital that they do not leave the UK between graduating and obtaining their new Tier 2 Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). If they leave the UK after graduating and try to re-enter, even although their Tier 4 visa is still valid, they may be temporarily admitted as a visitor instead of a Tier 4 student.  If they are admitted as a visitor, they will not be eligible to switch into a Tier 2 (General) visa.


Start Date:

A student cannot start working in their new role until the stated start date on their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).  The employer is required to conduct a ‘right to work’ check before the new employment starts.  In most cases, a student will be required to show their new Tier 2 BRP to the employer before starting work in their new role.  In some cases, however, they may be able to start working before receiving their new BRP if their Tier 2 visa application has already been submitted and the employer is satisfied that they have permission to start working in their new role. 


Other requirements:

As well as providing evidence as proof that they have completed their course, Tier 4 students will also be required to meet the sponsorship, English language and maintenance requirements before switching into a Tier 2 visa.  There may also be additional requirements depending on the student’s exact circumstances. 


Process for switching into a Tier 2 (General) Visa

Once the employer has issued the student with a CoS for their role in the UK, the student will need to complete an online application and then post their original, supporting documents to UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI). The standard process for this visa takes up to 8 weeks.  There is also a 2-week priority service available for an additional £459.  Alternatively, instead of sending supporting documents by post, there is an in-person appointment option at UKVI premium service centres.  The fee for this same day service is an additional £590. 


For assistance with switching into a Tier 2 (General) visa or for issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship for a skilled role in the UK, please contact Beverley Harper at IQA Immigration.