Tier 2 is the main immigration route for working in the UK and is for skilled workers with a job offer. Visa sponsorship is required by an employer and the visa is linked to a specific job. There are different categories within Tier 2 and the most relevant for international graduates is Tier 2 (General).
Switching from Tier 4
- Can only switch if applying from inside the UK
- Received confirmation of final degree in writing or completed 12 months of a PhD.
- Employer must be on the register of Tier 2 sponsors and issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
- Job offer must be at ‘graduate level’ as outlined in the Codes of Practice for Skilled Workers
- Minimum salary of £20,800 or industry equivalent as outlined in the Codes of Practice for Skilled Workers. A graduate switching between a Tier 4 to Tier 2 visa can meet the ‘new entrant’ salary rate. The minimum salary varies depending on the occupation and in many cases is more than £20,800.
The visa can be granted for up to 5 years.
Requires you to obtain 70 points as below:
50 points for Attributes:
- 30 points for Switching from Tier 4 (General)
You can switch into Tier 2 from Tier 4 if you have successfully completed your degree OR you have completed a minimum 12 months of study in the UK towards a UK PhD during your current period of leave.
You will be required to provide evidence of this with your visa application.
- 20 points for minimum level salary of £20,800 or industry equivalent
10 points for English Language – fulfilled using Cambridge degree
10 points for Maintenance – £945 minimum held of consecutive 90 day period ending no more than 31 days before you make your application OR certification from sponsor on CoS that they will provide this sum for you should you require it. Please discuss this with the recruiting department /institution.
Please note: If you received a full scholarship for both tuition fees and living expenses during your course from a government or international scholarship agency you will need a letter from your scholarship provider stating that they consent to you remaining in the UK.
If you have received your final results, you can commence permanent full-time employment in the role for which the CoS has been assigned while the visa application is being processed.
Advantages to switching in the UK from Tier 4
If you are switching from a valid Tier 4 visa within the UK, the following concessions currently apply:
- Employers are exempt from having to carry out the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), which requires a job to be advertised in a particular way and for sponsors to demonstrate that there are no suitable settled workers to fill the post.
- The issuing of the CoS is not subject to the national annual limit and so does not require prior approval from UK Visas and Immigration. Therefore, you are likely to have the CoS issued to you within a shorter timeframe.
The Government announced its response to the Tier 2 review, undertaken by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), on 24 March 2016 and has confirmed that the concessions for those switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2, as outlined above, will be maintained. In addition, Tier 2 employers will be exempt from paying the Immigration Skills Charge, to be introduced April 2017, for those switching between Tier 4 and Tier 2.
Applying from outside the UK
If you apply for Tier 2 from outside the UK, there are additional requirements to be sponsored:
- The issuing of the CoS is subject to a national annual limit and requires prior approval from UK Visas and Immigration. This adds an additional timeframe to the issuing of the CoS. If you are outside the UK, the only exception is if the salary will be £155,300 or more.
- Employers must carry out the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), which requires a job to be advertised in a particular way and for sponsor to demonstrate that there are no suitable settled workers to fill the post. Exceptions to this are:
- If the job is on the shortage occupation list OR
- The salary will be £155,300 or more OR
- The job is for a supernumerary research position (this usually only applies to individuals who are named on a grant or Fellowship).