You can switch from a student visa (including Tier 4) to a Skilled Worker visa while in the country (which replaced the Tier 2 route on 1 December 2020). Dependent partners and children of Skilled Workers can also apply. We’ll look at how to change from a student visa to a Skilled Worker visa in this post.
Switching from Tier 4 / Student to Skilled Worker
In terms of who is permitted to switch into the Skilled Worker route, the only immigration status requirement under the new points-based system is as follows:
SW 1.5. An applicant who is applying for permission to stay must be in the UK on the date of application and must not have, or have last been granted, permission:
(a) as a Visitor; or
(b) as a Short-term student; or
(c) as a Parent of a Child Student; or
(d) as a Seasonal Worker; or
(e) as a Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or
(f) outside the Immigration Rules.
This means that you can switch in-country from Tier 4 or Student to the Skilled Worker category. You cannot switch from the Short-term student visa to the Skilled Worker route.
Requirements to switch from Tier 4 / Student to Skilled Worker
Am I a new entrant?
If you are under the age of 26, you will be immediately deemed a new entrant.
If all of the following conditions are met, you will be deemed a new entrant:
- Your most recent visa was as a student; and
- that Student visa expired less than 2 years before the date of application; and
- you were sponsored to pursue one of the following courses (not any other credentials of a comparable level) on that Student visa or any previous Student visa: a bachelor’s degree from the United Kingdom; or a master’s degree from the United Kingdom; or a PhD or other doctorate qualification from the United Kingdom; or a Postgraduate Certificate in Education; or a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education; and
- You finished (or are applying no more than 3 months before you are anticipated to finish) the above-mentioned programme, or you are pursuing a PhD and have completed at least 12 months of research in the UK.
There are also a few other ways to qualify as a new entrant:
- If your most recent permission was as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant;
- If you are in a postdoctoral position in any of the following occupation codes:
- 2111 Chemical scientists;
- 2112 Biological scientists and biochemists;
- 2113 Physical scientists;
- 2114 Social and humanities scientists;
- 2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified;
- 2311 Higher education teaching professionals;
- If your job offer is in a UK regulated profession and you are working towards a recognised professional qualification for that profession;
- If you are working towards full registration or chartered status with the relevant professional body for the job you are being sponsored for;
What are the advantages of being considered a new entrant to the labour market?
Employers who want to hire skilled workers through the Skilled Worker route must give them a wage that meets or surpasses both the general salary threshold (£25,600) and 100% of the ‘going rate’ for the occupation (as defined in the relevant occupation code listed above), whichever is higher.
A new entrant to the labour market, on the other hand, maybe paid a salary that is equal to or greater than both £20,480 per year and 70% of the going rate for the occupation. This is a much lower figure, which will allow new entrants to be paid less.
What if I’m the recipient of a government or international scholarship?
You must have given written agreement to the application form that Government or agency if you obtained an award from a Government or international scholarship agency in the 12 months prior to the date of application that covers both fees and living costs for study in the UK.
How old do I have to be to transition from Tier 4 / Student to Skilled Worker status?
This route has no upper age limit, but you must be over the age of 18 at the time you apply for a Skilled Worker position.
What are the additional requirements for moving from Tier 4 / Student to Skilled Worker status?
In order to qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, you will also need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
- You have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job you are planning to do;
- Your job offer is a genuine vacancy;
- Your sponsor has paid any required Immigration Skills Charge;
- Your job is at an appropriate skill level;
- You are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0);
- You have enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds;
- You have provided a criminal record certificate if required; and
- You have provided a valid TB certificate if required.
You will meet the financial criteria and will not need to produce finances if you are asking for permission to stay and have been in the UK with permission for 12 months or more at the time of application. As a result, most students applying to switch will not be required to provide further financial documentation. Additionally, a TB and Criminal Record Certificate are not necessary for people switching in-country.
Length of Grant when switching from Tier 4 / Student to Skilled Worker
Student migrants who transfer to the Skilled Worker path will be allowed permission to stay for 14 days after their Certificate of Sponsorship expires if they are successful. They cannot be awarded more than 4 years total when applying as a new entrant. They can, however, continue to work as a Skilled Worker, but they must achieve the appropriate wage criteria without relying on the lower ‘new entrant’ pay threshold.
Students who intend to travel after completing their studies and before applying for a Skilled Worker visa should be aware that they may face difficulties reentering the UK while their Tier 4 / Student visas are still valid. The immigration officer must be convinced that you will apply to extend your leave in this or another category, or that you will leave before your current student visa expires.
You should not travel until you have received a decision on your Skilled Worker application, and it is recommended that you wait until you have received your new BRP before leaving the UK.
Eligibility to Settle as a Skilled Worker
Skilled migrants will be on a route settlement after they enter the Skilled Worker route. Because they cannot combine their time in the UK on Tier 4 / Student route to settle more quickly, they must have spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK on this basis.
They must also meet the other requirements for settlement, such as understanding of living in the United Kingdom, as well as sponsorship, remuneration, validity, and suitability.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Connaught Law and authors accept no responsibility for loss that may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Connaught Law. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Connaught Law.