Staff Immigration

Switching

'Switching' is the term used when a migrant who is already legally in the UK changes their immigration status from one category to another. The migrant must meet the initial entry requirements for the new category.

Migrants must meet certain requirements when changing their immigration status, and UKVI impose strict rules. An application to switch will only be approved if the migrant:

  • meets the specific requirements of the Immigration Rules to be given permission to stay in the UK within the category that they are switching into; and
  • is already in the UK in one of the categories that allows switching into another category while in the UK.

Can I switch?

UKVI has very strict rules on which groups can change their immigration status while in the UK.

Switching into Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

You can apply to switch to a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if you’re already in the UK with any of these visa types:

  • Tier 1
  • Tier 2
  • Tier 5 (Temporary worker - Government Authorised Exchange) on an exchange scheme for sponsored researchers

You must leave the UK and make your application from abroad if you’re in another category.

Switching out of a Tier 1 (Highly Skilled Worker)

Migrants holding a Tier 1 (Highly Skilled Worker) visa may switch into one of the following categories whilst remaining in the UK as long as they do so before their existing visa expires:

  • Tier 4;
  • Tier 2;
  • EEA family permit;
  • Indefinite leave to remain.

Switching into Tier 2 (general)

Only the following may apply to switch into Tier 2 (General) employment without leaving the UK:

  • Tier 1 (highly-skilled worker);
  • Tier 1 (post-study worker);
  • Tier 4 migrant;
  • student;
  • dependant partners of student visa holders;
  • student nurse, but only if your certificate of sponsorship shows that you are being sponsored to work as a nurse, doctor, or dentist;
  • student re-sitting an examination;
  • person writing up a thesis;
  • overseas qualified nurse or midwife;
  • postgraduate doctor or dentist, but only if your certificate of sponsorship shows that you have been sponsored to work as a nurse, doctor or dentist;
  • student union sabbatical officer;
  • qualifying work permit holder;
  • Highly Skilled Migrant;
  • a participant in the International Graduate Scheme (formerly known as the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme);

If the migrant is not in any of these categories, they must leave the United Kingdom and make a new visa application at their local entry clearance post in their resident country.

Dependants of work permit holders or students, tourist visitors, or academic visitors may not switch into Tier 2 employment without leaving the UK.

Switching out of Tier 2 (general)

Migrants holding a Tier 2 visa may switch into one of the following categories whilst remaining in the UK as long as they do so before their existing visa expires:

  • Tier 1 (post-study worker);
  • Tier 4;
  • EEA family permit;
  • Indefinite leave to remain.

Switching into Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange)

Switching into Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) from any other immigration category is not permitted whilst in the UK. Migrants wishing to switch into the Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) category must return to their resident country and make a new visa application.

Switching out of Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange)

Switching out of Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) into any other immigration category is not permitted whilst in the UK. Migrants wishing to switch out of the Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) category must return to their resident country and make a new visa application.

 

 

Immigration - © University of Kent

The Registry, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 824998

Last Updated: 09/03/2015

Banner Image: Anne Worner