Tier 2 (General) visa
7. Switch to this visa
You can apply to change (‘switch’) from another visa to a Tier 2 (General) visa.
You should apply before your current visa expires.
You must already be in the UK under any of the following visas or schemes:
- Tier 1 visa
- Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa
- Tier 2 (Minister of religion) visa
- Tier 2 (Intra company Transfer) visa under the Immigration Rules in place before 6 April 2010 and you’re applying to change sponsor
- Tier 4 visa
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
You must leave the UK and make your Tier 2 (General) application from abroad if you’re not in any of these categories.
Switch from a Tier 4 visa
You can switch to this visa from a Tier 4 visa if you have an eligible qualification from a licensed tier 4 sponsor. They must have sponsored your visa to study for that qualification.
The eligible qualifications are:
- a UK bachelors degree
- a UK masters degree
- a postgraduate certificate in education
- a professional graduate diploma of education
You must have completed at least 12 months’ study for your PhD during your most recent stay in the UK and had permission to take the qualification.
How long you can stay
You can stay in the UK for up to 5 years after switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa.
Check the fee for your type of visa.
How to switch your visa
Read the Tier 2 guidance notes before you apply.
If you’re in the UK you can:
- apply online as an individual or family group, using the standard or priority service
- get a same-day decision at a premium service centre, by booking a premium service appointment when you apply online
Each person applying must also provide biometric information (fingerprints and a photo).
You can give your biometric information at:
- certain Post Office branches if you applied online (this costs £19.20)
- a premium service centre if you applied in person (this is included in the premium service application price)
You’ll get a biometric residence permit if your application to switch your visa is successful.
How long it takes
Decisions are usually made:
- within 8 weeks for online applications
- within 10 days if you’re able to use the Tier 2 priority application service
- on the same day if you use the premium service
You’ll be contacted if your application is complicated and will take longer, for example because:
- your supporting documents need to be verified
- you need to attend an interview
- of your personal circumstances, for example if you have a criminal conviction
Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.