Tier 4 to Tier 2: From Study to Work

If you’ve studied for a long period of time in the UK, you’ll likely be thinking about changing from a tier 4 to a tier 2 visa. Putting down roots can mean your life is now entirely in this country, so if you’re looking to find long-term employment with the appropriate documents, we can offer the advice and support that can really help you to get started on your journey for permanent residence.

If you already meet the requirements or you want to understand if you can apply for a tier 2 visa, our solicitors can help. We can guide and support you through the process of changing from a tier 4 to a tier 2 visa.

Please note: A 30-minute consultation with one of our immigration experts can be held in our offices or over the phone or Skype. Please be aware that we do not offer free advice and will charge a non-refundable fee of £60 per consultation.


from a tier 4 to a tier 2


What are my Tier 4 Visa Allowances?

If you are from outside of the EEA and you are currently living and studying in the UK, you should already have a tier 4 Visa. If you are in a course at or above NQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9 at a UK higher education institution, the tier 4 visa will allow you to:

  • Work for up to 20 hours per week during term time
  • Work full-time during vacations
  • Carry out a work placement as part of your course
  • Work as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised Foundation Program

If you are on a course below this level at a UK higher education institution, the tier 4 visa will allow you to:

  • Work for up to ten hours per week during term time
  • Complete a work placement as part of your course
  • Work full-time during vacations

If you are on any course at a publicly funded further education college, the tier 4 visa will generally allow you to:

  • Work for up to ten hours per week during term time
  • Work full-time during vacations
  • Carry out a work placement as part of your course (as long as your education provider is a Highly Trusted sponsor or the course is at or above NQF 6/ QCF 6/SCQF 9)

Whilst it does offer some opportunities to work part time alongside to your studies, if you later want to move into a full-time position, this visa no longer allows you to legally stay and work in the UK once you have finished your course. At this point you will then have to make an application to switch or extend your visa depending on your circumstances.

Read more about what your current tier 4 visa allows

Ending your education can be scary, but there are plenty of new opportunities to be excited about. If you’re looking to live and work in the UK, we can guide you through this application for a tier 2 general visa with ease. Our solicitors are specialists in immigration law and are proud to have a 100 per cent success rate for points-based visa applications, so are truly the best experts to help you.

How can AWH help me with my Tier 2 visa application?

We can assist you in processing your tier 2 visa application, helping you with providing all the necessary evidence so that you meet all of the requirements the Home Office has set out, so you can get started in your new working life. These requirements include:

  • Having a job offer from a tier 2 licensed employer
  • Having sponsorship in the form of a certificate of sponsorship (Cos) from a tier 2 licensed employer
  • Your offer of employment meets the minimum salary requirement.

If you have already been offered full-time employment before your tier 4 visa expires, you must re-apply for a tier 2 before you can start work in that position. It might be worth having a chat with your potential employer, and seeing whether they would be happy for you to work on a temporary or fixed-term basis until you have received your new visa, as you would still be allowed to do this under the terms of your tier 4 visa.

How do I apply to change from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2?

There is no need to leave the country in order to re-apply for this change from a tier 4 to a tier 2. In fact, if you still want to make the best of your status as a student, you can apply to change your visa from inside the UK before your current study visa expires. There is also an option to make a faster application in person, but you will have to pay an extended fee and there is no guarantee that it will definitely be accepted.

If you apply from outside the UK, it may place you at a slight disadvantage because your new employer will have to pass the Resident Labour Market Test and you will be provided with a ‘restricted’ certificate of sponsorship (CoS) in order for them to sponsor and employ you. However, being required to apply from outside the UK is unlikely to be an issue when you can make your visa change both before your tier 4 visa expires, and also within 3 months of your program finishing. If for any reason you do find yourself racing against time, we offer a service that allows you to fast track your application and have the process completed within a week.

Read more about our visa fast track service

What is the Tier 5 Visa Option?

If you haven’t yet been able to secure a full-time job in time for your studies ending, help is at hand in the form of a tier 5 visa. This is ideal if you’re hoping to complete some work experience, training, or a fellowship with the chance of forming a working relationship. This could then lead to the offer of employment that you would need to apply for your full working visa. It is worth being aware that this application would involve you having to leave the UK in order to apply from outside the country, and you would still require a sponsor from the relevant institution in order to be successful.

We provide a full service that supports you fully through both the initial decision-making process and any later form of visa application that is right for you. There are also other options following a tier 4 that we can advise on, such as a spouse visa or a further tier 4.

Read more about applying for a spouse visa

Offering our Expert Immigration Assistance

We understand that the list of requirements for a tier 2 work visa can seem daunting at first. However, if you’re moving from a study visa, the opportunities for entering into employment in the UK may be greater than you’d expect.

We can sit down with you at your earliest convenience and discuss your options for a more permanent position in the UK.

Starting the process couldn’t be more simple!

  • Contact us Contact us Get in touch however suits you best and arrange a consulation with one of our solicitors
  • Meet an expert Meet an expert You’ll meet the expert solicitor assigned to your case and discuss all the necessary details
  • Authorise Authorise Once we’ve got all the details of your case and you’re happy to proceed, just give us the go-ahead
  • We get to work We get to work It’s time for us to get to work! We’ll set up your file on our system and get to work right away
We’re with you, every step of the way