Student to Worker – a Guide to Switching From Tier 4 Student to a Tier 2 Work Visa
It comes to us all eventually. The end of our student days and the need to earn a living. Most students will tell you that it is tough to switch from student to worker but it is that much harder if you are a student who, as well as finding a job, needs to switch from a Tier 4 student visa to a Tier 2 (General) visa or work visa. In this blog we look at how best to switch from your student visa to a work visa.
Work visa solicitors
OTS Solicitors are specialist London immigration solicitors who help both students, workers as well as employers. If you want to switch from a student visa to a work visa and need help with your work visa application information call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.
The student switch
Apply to switch from within the UK and
An upsurge in student switch enquiries
It is often said that students are disorganised. However, that isn’t the impression given to London immigration solicitors who have seen a sharp rise in enquiries about the process of applying to switch from student visa to work visa.
That is probably because, with the New Year and thoughts of Spring, students are beginning to think that the end of their course isn’t far away and that they can apply to switch from student visa to work visa within three months of the end of completion of their studies.
Work visa solicitors
Am I qualified to switch from student visa to work visa?
To be eligible to apply to switch from a student visa to a work visa you need to be studying for (or have completed your course) in one of the following UK recognised qualifications:
Graduate Diploma of Education
Postgraduate certificate in education.
Prior to spending a lot of time contemplating switching from student visa to work visa it is best to check with an Immigration solicitor to make sure that your course is on the Home Office list of qualifications that allow you to switch from student visa to work visa.
Am I eligible to switch from student visa to work visa?
When it comes to a Home Office application to switch from student visa to work visa, it isn’t just your course (and the qualification that it leads to) that is important. To be eligible to apply to switch from student visa to work visa you need:
To be on a Tier 4 student visa
Be sponsored by a Home Office specified type of higher education institute.
As only some Tier 4 education sponsors meet the Home Office requirements it is best to check with an Immigration solicitor that your higher education institute means you meet the eligibility criteria to switch from student visa to work visa.
When can I apply to switch from student visa to work visa?
When it comes to a switch from a student visa to work visa, the timing of your Home Office application is crucial. You may be eligible to switch:
If you have completed or are within three months of completing a bachelor degree, graduate diploma of education, master degree or postgraduate certificate in education or
If you have completed at least twelve months of study for a UK PhD.
Immigration solicitors will tell you that a switch from student visa to work visa may not be possible if you did not study for your course in your last grant of leave or, according to the Immigration Rules, during a period of continuous leave which includes your last grant of leave. If you are in doubt about whether your student leave is classed as ‘continuous’ it is best to take Immigration legal advice so you know what your available Immigration options are.
The switch to the work visa
For most students it is a momentous step to get their first graduate job but it is doubly hard to achieve that step when you also require a Tier 2 (General) visa to secure your first post-study job.
Once you have secured your Tier 2 (General) visa or work visa this will enable you to stay in the UK for up to five years. The process involves obtaining a Certificate of Sponsorship from a sponsoring employer and then being able to apply to the Home Office for your work visa. As not all employers have a sponsor licence (or want to obtain one because of the paperwork involved) this can restrict your choice of employer though if your planned employer doesn’t have a Sponsor Licence and are prepared to apply for one then the Sponsor Licence could come through in a matter of weeks.
Securing your Certificate of Sponsorship does not mean that the Home Office is guaranteed to grant you a work visa. If you are worried about making your Tier 2 (General) visa application then an Immigration solicitor can help you put together the best application to secure your work visa.
The post-study work visa
You may be wondering why there is no mention of the post-study work visa that was announced by the government in September 2019. The scheme offers relevant qualifying graduates the right to apply for a two year post study work visa BUT the work visa route is only currently open to those students who enrol at a relevant UK higher education institution from September 2020 onwards so the graduating class of 2020 is excluded. Campaigners are arguing for the scheme to be changed to benefit current graduates and students.
Moving from student to worker is a major change in anyone’s life but it is particularly hard if you are an international non-EEA student who wants to work in the UK post-graduation. Recruiters and immigration solicitors will tell you that the jobs are out there for talented international students who are committed to tracking down a Certificate of Sponsorship and then applying for a Home Office work visa.
Work visa solicitors
London based OTS Solicitors are experts in individual immigration and business immigration law. Our team of specialist work visa solicitors can answer your questions on your progression and switch from student visa to Tier 2 (General) visa. We can help you with your work visa application to make sure it stands the best chance of getting you your work visa so you can start post graduate work in the UK.
Call us on 0203 959 9123 to discuss how the OTS Solicitors work visa team can help you or use our online enquiry form.