Many international students studying in the UK are interested in staying permanently in the UK after completing their studies. The United Kingdom is a place full of opportunities and international students want to take advantage of that. But what options do they have? How can they convert from Students to Permanent Residents?
In this article, we will talk about the immigration route for international students in the UK. So, keep reading!
Switching from Student Visa to Skilled Worker Visa
The new Skilled Worker route is open to new market entrants (recent graduates).
Without beating around the bushes, we will come straight to the point. You can switch from Student Visa (Tier 4) to Skilled Worker Visa from within the UK. Let’s look at what a Skilled Worker Visa is and the rules for switching to it.
What is Skilled Worker Visa
Previously known as the Tier 2 (General) visa, the Skilled Worker visa is now the Primary Immigration route for international students/migrants from around the world who wish to live and work in the UK.
In order to switch from Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa international students need to have a job offer from an employer with a sponsor license and meet all the requirements to be eligible. Individuals who are Skilled Worker Visa holders are able to gain Indefinite Leave to Remain (which means they have the right to live, study, and work in the UK permanently without immigration restrictions) after living for 5 years on this visa.
Rules and Requirements for switching Student Visa (Tier 4) to Skilled Worker Visa
The requirements that you need to meet in order to qualify for Skilled Worker Visa are listed below:
- Job offers from an employer with a Skilled Worker sponsor license
- There is a requirement for a minimum salary that you need to meet. As a new graduate, you can switch to Skilled Worker Visa if you have a lower salary than £25,600 (minimum salary requirement changed from £30,000) per year, you can still be eligible for this visa if you have a lower salary if you are classified under new entrant or if you have PhD find details below)
- The job must be on the eligible occupation list
- English language proficiency
- Sufficient funds to support yourself but if you have been in the UK for 1 year on a Student Visa you don’t need to meet this requirement.
New Rules and Requirements
There have been some changes in the recent year, hence it is important to understand the new criteria if you want to switch.
You will be classed as a ‘New Entrant’ if you are:
- Under 26 years, or
- Working toward a recognized qualification in the UK regulate profession, or
- Working towards full registration or chartered status in the job you are being sponsored for.
If you meet any of these requirements you will be classed as a new entrant and will only need to show that you receive 70% of the going rate for your job
If you hold a PhD in a relevant subject or a STEM subject you can switch to a Skilled Worker Visa. You just need to make sure that you have a suitable PhD. To check that you need to through the list of Skilled Occupations on the Home Office Website, and look for the eligible PhD points. If eligible, you only require a salary of at least 80% (if you have a PhD in a STEM subject) or 90% (if you have a PhD in a non-STEM subject) of your job’s usual going rate4.
How to Switch to Skilled Worker Visa from Student Visa
The candidate needs to follow the following steps to switch to Skilled Worker Visa:
- Have a valid Certificate of Scholarship (CoS) from your UK sponsor before you apply
- Complete Application form
- Pay the required admission fee
- Provide proof of identity – either by making and attending a biometric appointment with your nearest UKVACS service centre or by using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ mobile phone app.
- Upload supporting documents
Documents you need to apply for Skilled Worker Visa
- Your passport (with a blank page)
- Your Certificate of Sponsorship
- Your job title and annual salary
- Your job’s occupation code
- The name of your employer and their sponsor license number (as shown on your Certificate of Sponsorship)
- Evidence of sufficient personal savings to support yourself
- Proof of your relationship to your spouse/partner and children (e.g. marriage and birth certificates)
- A criminal record certificate (this is only necessary for certain occupation types involving vulnerable individuals such as healthcare and education)
- Proof of your English language proficiency
NOTE: Please apply before your student visa expires or you will be classified as an overstayer. Once you have applied you can stay in the UK as long as it takes to receive a decision.
You need to pay an application fee in order to switch from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa.
- The application fee ranges from £625 to £1423 depending on the individual situation.
Processing Time for Skilled Worker Visa
Candidates using the standard service can expect to receive a decision within 8 weeks. If you are in a hurry then there are alternative ways. You can pay additional fees for faster decisions.
- £500 for the priority service, which will respond within five working days, or
- £800 for super priority service for a decision by the end of the next working day (or two working days if your UKVACS appointment is on the weekend day).
Can you Combine your time on a Tier 4 Student Visa and a Skilled Worker Visa?
Unfortunately, the answer is no, skilled migrants will be on the settlement route only after they enter the Skilled Worker Route as they can’t combine their time in the UK on Tier 4 Student Visa with the time they spent in the UK as a skilled worker in order to settle more quickly. They must have spent 5 continuous years in the UK on this visa to be eligible as a settler.
Edvise Hub is a dynamic educational consultancy. We help students choose the best study abroad option for them. If you have any questions about studying abroad or visa questions then book a live session and we will guide you through the whole process.