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: established staff) visa and you’re applying to change sponsor
- 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, or you’re on another kind of student visa - read ‘Switching from a Tier 4 visa’ below
- Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Creative and sporting) for a job as a professional footballer and you meet the Tier 2 (Sportsperson) requirements
- Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
- Innovator Scheme
- Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
- International Graduates Scheme (or its predecessor, the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme)
- Business and Commercial work permit (except multiple entry work permits)
- Sports and Entertainment work permit (except multiple entry work permits)
You can also switch to a Tier 2 (General) visa if you’re:
- a dependent partner of someone with a Tier 4 visa
- a Jewish agency employee
- operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline
- a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order
- an overseas qualified nurse or midwife
- writing up a thesis
- a postgraduate doctor or dentist
- a representative of an overseas business
- a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
- a student union sabbatical officer
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 or other student visa
You must have one of these qualifications from your student visa if you want to switch from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 (General) visa:
- a UK bachelors degree
- a UK masters degree
- a postgraduate certificate in education
- a professional graduate diploma of education
You must have got your qualification at a UK recognised body or an institution that has a Tier 4 sponsor licence.
The other student visa categories are:
- student nurse
- student re-sitting an examination
- overseas qualified nurse
- person writing up a thesis
- postgraduate doctor or dentist
- student union sabbatical officer
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 biometric information at:
- at certain Post Office branches if you applied online (this costs £19.20)
- at a premium service centre if you applied in person
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, eg 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.