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Tier 2 (General) Worker

Most students will be expected to apply under Tier 2 (General) Worker. Students will need to meet most of the current requirements, except they will not be subject to Resident Labour Market Tests – which means employers will not need to show that there is no individual in the settled labour market that could do the job before offering it to a recent international graduate.


To apply for a Tier 2 visa, you need to show you have  the following:

  • A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from an employer who is a Tier 2 sponsor. 
  • Meet English Language Requirements 
  • Have £945 in savings for 90 consecutive days

Switching from a Tier 4 to Tier 2

You can switch from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 from within the UK if :

  • You have a  valid Tier 4 visa and are applying from within the UK
  • Earn a minimum of £20,800 per year ( must be a graduate-level job ( RQF level 6 or above ) with Tier 2 sponsor ) ( check if online if the employer is on Tier 2 & 5 registered sponsor list)
  • Have completed your degree programme or be within 3 months of the official programme end date as stated on your CAS
  • You are a PhD student who has completed 12 months of your PhD
  • Have permission from your government sponsor or international sponsor to remain in the UK to work. ( a written letter must be provided)
  • Meet the maintenance requirements
You can also switch to a Tier 2 (General) visa if you’re:
  • a dependent partner of someone with a Tier 4 visa
  • a representative of an overseas business

Level of job and salary

  • If you apply in the UK and you still have leave remaining on your  Tier 4 visa:
  • The job must be at graduate level, or a job on the shortage occupational list. 
  • Your employer must pay you a minimum of £20,800 as a 'new entrant' ( maximum of three years) or £30,000 or above as an  'Experience Worker' (maximum of five years) 
  • Your employer must issue you a Certificate of Sponsorship ( CoS) 

Exemptions  as a Tier 4 student

Resident Market Test Exemption.

If you are switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 (General) in the UK, you will be exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test. 

More information can be found on the UKCISA web pages if your employer requires confirmation of this.

The shortage occupation List: Where these Rules refer to jobs which appear on the Shortage Occupation List, this means only those specific jobs within each Standard Occupational Classification code where stated, where the further specified criteria are met.

Reading the employers guide for Recruiting International Graduates will be useful it’s aimed at employers, but it highlights some of the concessions made for new graduates switching into this category and looks at misconceptions employers have. Just search “Recruiting-International-Graduates-A-Guide-for-Employers” you will find this information on The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) website.

How to apply

Before applying you should read the Tier 2 Policy Guidance carefully.

To switch into a Tier 2 visa in the UK, you will need to complete either the online or paper application form on the Home Office website.

In addition to completing the application form, you will need to submit the following documentation:

  • passport/ID card
  • Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  • a degree certificate or transcript or letter from the college
  • financial evidence as stated above

Decisions are usually made within eight weeks for the standard service. Priority services are also available for quicker processing times.

How long can I stay in the UK

The visa will be issued for up to five years depending upon the length of your employment.

You can apply to extend for a further period of leave if you are still employed at the time of your visa expiring.


You can have your dependent(s) with you in the UK on Tier 2 (General) Worker visa.

Information on financial requirements and how to apply can be found on the Home Office website.


How much you pay for a Tier 2 (General) visa depends on the type of visa and where you are.

  • For up to three years:  £704 Standard Service in the UK
  • For more than three years: £1,408 Standard Service in the UK
  • For faster decision priority and super-priority service applies as below

Healthcare surcharge

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

If you’re applying to extend or switch in the UK

Once you have submitted your online application and you’ll need to use UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) for:

  • your biometric information (fingerprints and photo) You will need to 
  • supporting documents for your application

You’ll be told if you need to use UKVCAS when you apply.

You’ll need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.

The processing time

Decisions are usually made:

  • within 8 weeks of your application date if you use the standard service
  • within 5 working days of your UKVCAS appointment if you use the priority service you can pay an extra £500 for the priority service to get a decision within 5 working days providing.
  • You can pay an extra £800 for the super priority service to get a decision by the end of the next working day of your UKVCAS appointment is on a weekday or 2 working days if your appointment is on the weekend.


  • For up to three years:  £704 (each person) Standard Service in the UK
  • For more than three years  A – £1,408 (each person) Standard Service in the UK
  • For faster decision priority and super priority service applies as above 

For further information please contact Student Support.


Group Sessions are available once a month. To book a session please contact the International Student Adviser. Information packs are also available on Moodle (Student Support) for our current student students.

Student Support Office
+44 (0)20 7590 4140
[email protected]



Home Office