The UK Home Office has tightened the rules in regard to switching from within the UK over the past years, on when Tier 4 (General) migrants (i.e. those holding a student visa for the UK) can switch into the Tier 2 (General) category. Fortunately, there are still options available to migrants who are currently in the UK as Tier 4 migrants, or to those who intend to study in the UK in this capacity.
Requirements for switching from a Tier 4 (General) permit to Tier 2 (General)
In order to switch to a Tier 2 (General) permit, there are very specific rules that have to be met pertaining to the studies undertaken while holding the Tier 4 (General) permit/student visa.
- The applicant must have last been granted Entry Clearance, Leave to enter or Leave to Remain as a Tier 4 migrant.
- During that grant of leave, or a period of continuous leave which includes the most recent grant of leave, the applicant must have completed and passed a UK recognised Bachelors, or Masters degree, or a UK Postgraduate Certificate in Education or Professional Graduate Diploma of Education; or, alternatively, to have completed 12 months study towards a UK PhD.
- The studies must have been sponsored by a UK recognised body, or a body in receipt of public funding as a Higher Education Institution from one of the following bodies: The Higher Education Funding Council for England; The Department of Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland; The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, or the Scottish Council, or an education provider which holds a licence for sponsoring students under Tier 4 of the Points-Based System;
- The applicant must be applying from within the UK, and either still hold valid Leave to Enter/Remain as a Tier 4 (General) Migrant, or be applying within 28 days of that visa expiring.
Benefits to the UK Employer:
UK employers who are looking to sponsor students in such circumstances will enjoy the benefit of being exempted from having to meet the requirements of the Resident Labour Market Test.
They will also be eligible to sponsor the migrant worker at the lower “New Entrant” rate of pay for the first three years of employment and will not be subject to meeting the new minimum salary requirement of £30,000 which the Home Office will be introducing in April 2017 for all other Tier 2 (General) Migrants entering the route.
Furthermore, the employer will be able to rely upon an unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) in respect of the sponsorship, meaning that the allocation of the CoS would not be subject to the annual limit of CoS, allowing for a smoother and more secure CoS allocation application.