Switching from Tier 4 student to Tier 2 work visa

From 29 March 2019, after the new Immigration rules were introduced, every student who graduates with a degree is allowed to switch from Tier 4 visa to the Tier 2 category 3 months before the completion date of their course. This application must be done from within the UK and should be before the tier 4 visa expires.

What you need to consider when switching

For you to switch to tier 2 visa, you must be granted leave to remain or enter the country as a Tier 4 migrant and also be sponsored by an overseas higher education institution or a higher education provider that’s known for compliance to undertake a study programme in the UK. It is important to note that not every tier 4 holders will be accepted, only those who meet specific requirements.

What are the qualifications?

You must have the following qualifications;

  • A bachelor’s degree recognized in the UK
  • A recognized master’s degree
  • A postgraduate certificate in education
  • A professional graduate diploma of education
  • A PhD

All these qualifications have to be for courses recognized in the UK.


Those people who have already completed the qualification mentioned above (apart from PhD), are able to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa in the next 3 months. As for the Ph.D. students, only those who have studied for a minimum of 12 months in the UK will be eligible to apply.

Permission to study

You must not be subjected to any form of restriction to pursue any study programme during your time in the UK, and you must be in the country legally when doing so. Also, you will need to note that you must have had undertaken or are undertaking the course at your tier 4 sponsor and that relying on the supplementary study that is undertaken at the tier 4 sponsor is insufficient.


The students who are sponsored by an international scholarship agency or even the government might find themselves required to provide more additional information before they are allowed to switch.

Requirements for the switch

First and foremost, you need to know that for you to apply for Tier 2, you need to at least have an offer on a job position with a proper salary. The second thing you need to have in your mind is the age requirement. See, you need to be 16 years of age and above for you to be allowed to apply. But note that if you are less than 18 years, the Home Office may require consent from your parents.

Certificate of sponsorship (CoS)

Before you are allowed to switch to Tier 2 visa, your UK sponsor or employer is required to have a Tier 2 sponsor license. If they don’t have this license, they will have to apply for it. In this case, there are quite a number of documents required, and the processes for an application can get challenging, so it is recommended that the sponsor gets legal help to apply for it. Now, once your sponsor gets this license, they will be able to give you the certificate of sponsorship. But let’s get something straight here; the fact that you are issued with a certificate of sponsorship doesn’t – in any way – mean that you will get a free pass in your Tier 2 application. There are a number of requirements that you still have to provide, for your switch to be successful.

Anyway, back to the CoS, so, before your sponsor gives you this certificate, they may conduct a Resident Labour Market Test, to test where they need to advertise the position in two appropriate places for a calendar month. But for Tier 4 migrants, if they meet the relevant requirements, the sponsors may exempt them from this test.

English language

  • You have to undertake the relevant English language test
  • Also, you may also have taught a degree in English; or
  • You are from an English speaking country.


Tier 4 holders who have already completed their studies who wish to travel before submitting the tier 2 application should know that they may experience some problems when coming back to the UK. The applicant will have to prove to the immigration officer beyond any reasonable doubt that they will apply to extend their stay in this category or that they are planning to leave before the tier 4 visa expires. And once you’ve made your tier 2 application, you are also not allowed to leave the country until you receive a decision on your application and also until you receive your new BRP.  

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