Switching from a Tier 2 ICT Dependent Visa to a Tier 4 Student Visa
It is commonplace for migrants who are in the UK to switch into a different visa category. There are many reasons for this; a person on a study visa may wish to remain in the UK once their studies are completed and apply for a Tier 2 work visa. Likewise, a person who holds a work visa may decide they want to study in the UK and may apply to switch from Tier 2 to Tier 4. Switching essentially allows a person to apply for a visa of a different type to that they currently hold (e.g. from Tier 2 to Tier 4, or Tier 4 to Tier 2), without needing to leave the UK. This also means that the applicant can remain legally in the UK until they receive a decision from the Home Office on their new application. If switching is not permitted between one visa type and another, the person is required to return to their home country to submit their application.
Can a Person Holding a Tier 2 ICT Dependant Visa Switch to a Tier 4 Study Visa?
Unfortunately, there is no direct way to switch from a Tier 2 ICT dependant visa to a Tier 4 study visa from within the UK. The immigration rules for Tier 4 visas state:
“You can apply under the Tier 4 (General) Student category from inside the UK
if you currently have, or you were last given, permission to stay in any of the
- Tier 4 (General) Student where your existing Tier 4 leave is sponsored by one of the following:
- an HEP with a track record of compliance,
- an overseas HEI,
- an embedded college offering pathway courses,
- an independent school;
- Tier 4 (Child) Student;
- Tier 2 Migrant”
As you can see, while it is possible for a person with a Tier 2 visa, including the ICT visa, to make the switch to a study visa, dependants do not have the same option. This means that in order to make an application for a Tier 4 study visa, you will need to leave the UK and apply from your home country.
What is the Application Process for a Tier 4 Visa?
Before applying for a Tier 4 visa from your home country, you firstly need to check that you are eligible. The eligibility criteria for a Tier 4 study visa are as follows; you must:
- have an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor
- have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course
- must be able to speak, read, write and understand English to the required level
- must have sufficient maintenance funds to support yourself and pay for your course - the amount will vary depending on your circumstances
- You must be from a country that is not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
Not all course types can be undertaken with a Tier 4 visa; you will need to enrol onto one of the following:
- A full-time course leading to a qualification of at least level six on the Ofqual register
- Part-time leading to a qualification of at least level seven on the Ofqual register
- An overseas course of degree-level study that’s equivalent to a UK higher education course and is being run by an overseas higher education institution
- A full-time full-time course, with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study, leading to a qualification which is at least level 3 on the Ofqual register
- A recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist
- An English language course at level B2 or above on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
Once accepted on your course of study, your UK University or educational institution will send you a ‘confirmation of acceptance for studies’ (CAS), at which point you can apply for a Tier 4 visa. You must apply to the Home Office for your visa within six months of receiving your CAS document.
Proving your English language proficiency
The English language level you must meet depends on the level of the course. For courses that are below degree level, you will be expected to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) certificate which shows you can read, speak, listen, and write to the equivalent of Common European Framework for languages (CEFR) at level B1. For degree-level education, you will need to meet the CEFR B2 level. You will need to take a test with an approved provider.
Proving you meet the maintenance funds requirement
When applying for a Tier 4 visa, you will need to provide evidence to the Home Office that you have enough money to pay for your course fees and your living costs while studying in the UK. For courses of longer than one year, you will only need to show proof you can cover the first year of course fees. In terms of living costs, you will need to show that you have £1,265 per month if you are studying for most of the time (i.e. more than 50%) in London, or £1,015 per month if you are studying outside London.
You will also need to pay for the immigration healthcare surcharge when you apply. This is to cover you to use the UK’s national health service. This is payable for each year of study at a cost of £300 per year.
If you have your heart set on studying in the UK, if you hold a Tier 2 ICT dependant visa, you will need to return to your home country to submit your Tier 4 application. It is recommended that you seek the support of Immigration Solicitors who can ensure that your application is processed as smoothly and quickly as possible, allowing you to return to the UK as soon as possible to commence your studies.