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Making the Switch from a UK Tier 4 Study Visa to a Tier 2 Work Visa

Are you currently in the UK on a Tier 4 study visa? And are you planning to stay and work in the UK once your studies are completed? If so, then you will be joining many thousands of students each year who, having worked hard to build up their skills, knowledge, and qualifications, have made the ultimate decision to start their new career in the UK. It is easy to see why. In the current global landscape, the UK is still a big hitter, providing boundless opportunities for anyone with the skills and willingness to work hard. At present, as measured by GDP, the UK is the world’s sixth richest country, ahead of major players such as Russia, Canada, and Brazil. We have some of the world's leading universities, research institutions, and corporations, and the UK is known for the size and strength of its financial sector; with London being the second largest financial hub in the world.

What is the Tier 2 visa?

The Tier 2 visa route allows skilled workers from outside of the European Economic Area with a job offer to work in the UK on a long-term basis. Tier 2 is divided into a number of subcategories, including the:

For students wishing to switch from a tier 4 to a tier 2 visa, the tier 2 (general) visa will be the most appropriate route. In order to be eligible for a tier 2 visa, you will need to have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a licensed sponsor employer. Normally, an employer who wishes to employ a member of staff from outside of the EEA on tier 2 (general) work visa first needs to ensure that no settled person in the UK can undertake the job (this is referred to as a Resident Labour Market Test), unless the position is on the UK Shortage Occupation List (SOL). One of the many benefits of switching from tier 4 to tier 2 is that the employer does not need to complete this step. In addition, they are not required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge, and because the CoS being issued is not subject to a cap (known as the national annual limit), the certificate can be issued without seeking approval from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). These are highly advantageous benefits for the employer who can reduce their administrative burden and costs, and in addition, the employee will receive their CoS sooner given that no permission is required. As such, students switching from tier 4 to tier 2 are highly desirable to UK employers.

Can I switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2?

We are approached by many students each year who are coming to the end of their studies and have made the decision to find a job in the UK. Whether you are planning to remain for the rest of your life or a few years, the Tier 2 route will most likely be the most appropriate for your needs. If you currently hold a tier 4 visa, you can switch to a tier 2 (general) visa if you have an eligible qualification, will complete your course in three months, or you’ve done at least 12 months of a Ph.D. In addition, dependant partners of those with a tier 4 visas can also apply. Importantly, if you do have a tier 4 visa, you will not need to leave the country in order to apply for a tier 2 (general) visa; this can be done within the UK as long as the application is made prior to the expiry of your current visa.

The qualifications required to switch from tier 4 to a tier 2 (general) visa include:

  • a UK bachelor’s degree
  • a UK master’s degree

a professional graduate diploma of education

Ph.D. students must also have been sponsored by a higher education provider listed on the Tier 4 register of sponsors as ‘Tier 4 sponsor - track record’ or an overseas higher education institution if you completed a short-term ‘study abroad’ programme in the UK.

All applicants for a tier 2 (general) visa, whether switching from tier 4 or not must provide the following to the Home Office:

  • a valid CoS for the job – in order to acquire a CoS, you will need to be employed by a sponsor who is licensed by the UK Home Office.
  • an appropriate salary is being paid for the job – this depends on the role, but under current guidelines, this is typically at least £30,000.
  • proof of sufficient knowledge of English – this is a relatively straightforward process if you have a degree taught in English or you are from a majority English speaking country. Otherwise, you will need to pass an approved English language test.
  • proof of sufficient savings - £945 in your bank account for the past 90 days, or a promise by an A-rated sponsor to give you at least £945 if you require help with your living costs.
  • evidence of your travel history over the last five years
  • tuberculosis test results if from a listed country
  • provide a criminal record certificate from any country you’ve lived in for 12 months or more in the last ten years if you’ll be working with vulnerable people

As part of the application process, you will also need to arrange and attend an appointment to provide your photograph and fingerprints (referred to as your biometric information) to the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS).

How long does it take to switch from tier 4 to tier 2?

By using the standard service, applicants can expect to hear back regarding their application within eight weeks. The priority service will provide a response within five working days, and the super-priority service will give a decision by the end of the next working day (or two working days if your UKVCAS appointment is at a weekend). It should be noted that the priority and super-priority services do incur an additional charge.

Wrapping up

If you are now ready to kick-start your career having studied in the UK, you now have a wealth of options available in this country. The ability to switch from a tier 4 study visa to a tier 2 visa means that you can make the transition from student to a worker with relative ease. We wish you all the best with your new career in the UK.

Some of our Happy Clients

Reiss Edwards Awards

ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated
Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge
ACQ5 Awards Award ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated Three Best Rated
Department For International Development Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge University Of Cambridge

O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija dealt with my case and I found her very professional and experienced in dealing with my application. The care and attention to detail was exceptional. I would definitely recommend Reiss Edwards!".

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into steps that are easy to follow. Cruised to 3 successive wins on my Tier 1 graduate/entrepreneurship visa which allowed us to play our part in making the UK a better and healthier place!".

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them".

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them".

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration application. Both for my initial application and extension. They are really affordable. The team of solicitors at this firm are probably one of the most efficient and economical in terms of cost. They offered free advice over the phone and spent good time with us before inviting us for consultation".

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the application, I was not sure which law firm i should hire to facilitate the paperwork. After a few hours of research, i decided to go with Reiss Edwards and i must confess that I wasn't disappointed. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards handled my case well and they really knew what they were doing. They were fully aware of what documents I needed and it was easy for them to tell if my case was going to be easy or not. At the end of the day, I have not received my British citizenship within 3 months. If anyone is looking for a good immigration lawyer to handle their case, contact Reiss Edwards".

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is definitely not a routine decision. We had to make sure that the Tier 1 investor immigration lawyers that we'd be picking has to be one of the best within the Tier 1 investor category. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they were able to get us not only the Tier 1 investor visa but also suggested profitable investment portfolios in addition to what we already had in mind".

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused by the Home Office and they gave her 14 days to leave the country. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they said "OK don't worry we will sort this out". They put together the list of documents for me to obtain and they prepared a bundle which was as thick as the printer it came out from.We followed everything they asked us to do and in the end we won our appeal and got our spouse visa. We can't recommend them enough and we have promised ourselves never to make any more UK visa applications without them".

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy. As a family, we...

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"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration...

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Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They ac...

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Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is defintely not a routine decision. We had to ...

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"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my expe...

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"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a ...

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