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 - if you have an eligible qualification or you’ve done at least 12 months of a PhD
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.
Eligible qualifications for Tier 4 visa
You must have been sponsored by a licensed tier 4 sponsor to get one of the following qualifications:
- 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 during your most recent stay in the UK. This can be through a licensed Tier 4 sponsor or another visa that allowed you to study.
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 circumstances or application are more complicated, for example if:
- your supporting documents need to be verified
- you need to attend an interview
- 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.