Are you currently studying or thinking of studying in the United Kingdom? If so, once you have completed your studies, you may be able to switch to the Tier 2 (General) category from within the United Kingdom. This will put you on an immigration route which would lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK.
The UK Home Office has recently tightened up their rules on when Tier 4 (General) Migrants (i.e. those holding student visas for the UK) can switch into the Tier 2 (General) category.
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Fortunately, there are still some options which are available for migrants who are currently in the UK as a Tier 4 migrant, or who intend to enter the UK to study in this capacity.
It is still possible to switch from a Tier 4 (General) permit to a Tier 2 (General) permit if the following requirements pertaining to the studies undertaken while holding a Tier 4 (General) permit are met:
The migrant must have last been granted Entry Clearance, Leave to Enter, or Leave to Remain as a Tier 4 migrant; and
During that grant of leave, or a period of continuous leave which includes the most recent grant of leave, the migrant 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.; and
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; and
The migrant 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.
If the above requirements can be met, the migrant will be allowed to switch into the Tier 2 (General) Migrant category. The UK employer looking to sponsor the migrant 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. 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.
It should be remembered that all of the other requirements attached to Tier 2 sponsorship and permits must still also be met.