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Switching from Student Visa to Skilled Worker Visa in 2023

Switching from Student Visa to Skilled Worker Visa in 2023

Last updated: 18 July 2023

You can switch from a tier 4 Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa (formerly the Tier 2 Visa) from within the UK if you completed the course of your study, have a job offer from an employer with a sponsor licence, and meet all the skilled worker visa eligibility requirements (as explained below). Under the new UK immigration rules in 2023, you can still apply for a skilled worker visa before the end of your course, but the employment start date must be no earlier than your course completion date. Otherwise, you have to leave and submit out of the UK. If you are studying towards PhDs, the start date of your skilled worker visa must no earlier than 24 months after the start date of your course. Those on a short-term Student Visa are not able to switch to a Skilled Worker visa in the UK.

The Skilled Worker Visa is the main work visa scheme allowing skilled migrants from around the world to work in the UK. Successful Skilled Visa applicants are able to gain Indefinite Leave to Remain (i.e. settle permanently in the UK) after living here for 5 years on this visa. Here we will look at the rules on switching from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa and how to switch from a Tier 4 to Tier 2 visa.

Requirements for switching Tier 4 student visa to Skilled Worker visa

To make the switch from a UK Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa, you must:

  • Have completed the course of your study. If you are studying a full-time PhD, the employment start date should be no earlier than 24 months of your course.
  • Have a job offer from an employer with a Skilled Worker sponsor licence
  • Meet the minimum salary requirements: as a new graduate, you may be eligible to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa if you have a lower salary than £26,200 per year, if you are classed as a new entrant or if you have a Ph.D. - see below for more details on Tier 4 to Tier 2 new rules.
  • Have a job must be on the eligible occupation list
  • Meet the English language requirements
  • Have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK (you will not need to meet this requirement if you have been in the UK for 1 year or more on a Student Visa).

For more details on the general requirements, please see our Skilled Worker Visa page.

The switching from tier 4 to tier 2 visa requirements have changed in recent years, hence it is important to understand the new criteria, as outlined below.

Lower salary requirements

New graduates entering the job market in the UK often do not meet the standard salary requirement of £26,200. It is still possible to switch from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa if you receive a lower salary and if you fit one of the following criteria:

1. You are classed as a ‘new entrant’

If you are classed as a new entrant, you only need to show that you will receive 70% of the going rate for your job. You will be classed as a new entrant if you are:

  • under 26 years, or
  • working towards a recognised qualification in the UK regulated profession1, or
  • working towards full registration or chartered status2 in the job you are being sponsored for

2. You hold a relevant PhD

You can switch from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker visa if you hold a Ph.D. in a relevant subject or a STEM subject. To check if you have a suitable Ph.D., check the list of Skilled Occupations on the Home Office website3, and look for those that are eligible for Ph.D. points (SW). If eligible, you only require a salary of at least 80% (if you have a Ph.D. in a STEM subject) or 90% (if you have a Ph.D. in a non-STEM subject) of your job’s usual going rate4.

How to switch from a Student visa to a Skilled Worker visa

To switch from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa from within the UK, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Ensure you have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your UK sponsor before you apply
  2. Complete the application form to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa on the Home Office website
  3. Pay any application fees required (please see below)
  4. Provide proof of identity – either by making and attending a biometric appointment with your nearest UKVCAS service centre or by using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ mobile phone app.
  5. Upload any documents required to support your application

Depending on your circumstances, you may be asked to attend an interview with the Home Office before your Skilled Worker visa is granted.

Please note: you must apply before your current Student Visa expires; otherwise, you may be classed as an overstayer. Once you have applied, you can then remain in the UK for as long as it takes to receive a decision.

Tier 4 student visa to Skilled Worker visa fees

The fees payable to switch from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa are as follows:

  • For a visa of up to three years: £704 per person
  • For a visa of more than three years: £1,408 per person

If your role is on the shortage occupation list:

  • For a visa of up to three years: £464 per person
  • For a visa of more than three years: £928 per person

In addition to the application fee, you will also need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge, which will allow you access to the National Health Service (NHS) £624 for each year

How long can it take to switch to a Skilled Worker visa?

If using the standard service, applicants can expect a decision within 8 weeks. Alternatively, you can pay an additional fee for a faster decision, as follows:

  • £500 for the priority service, which will provide a response within five working days, or
  • £800 for the super-priority service for a decision by the end of the next working day (or two working days if your UKVCAS appointment is on a weekend day).

Can you combine your time on a Tier 4 Student visa and a Skilled worker visa route for ILR?

Unfortunately, time spent in the UK on a Student Visa does not normally count towards ILR. The exception to this is if you have spent many years studying in the UK and you apply under the 10-year long residence route. In this case, it is possible to combine time spent on a student visa and a Skilled Worker visa to qualify for ILR.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

Reiss Edwards specialises in all areas of immigration law, including switching from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa. Our immigration lawyers can:

  • Confirm your eligibility to switch from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa
  • Advice on any other suitable visa routes available to you and your dependants
  • Prepare and submit your Skilled Worker application on your behalf and of your family members
  • Collate, check, and upload all documents required to support your application for a Skilled Worker Visa
  • Handle any queries from the Home Office

For assistance with switching from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa, please speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

References:

1 ECCITS: Regulated Professions

2 ECCITS: Protected Titles

3 GOV.UK: Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Occupations

4 GOV.UK: Skilled Worker visa: going rates for eligible occupations

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