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Switching From Student Visa to UK Skilled Worker Visa

Skilled migrants can use a student visa to enter and study in the UK, and skilled individuals can obtain a skilled worker visa to enter and work in the UK. Skilled individuals who have finished studies in the UK can obtain a Skilled Worker visa.

At IAS, we are experts in immigration law and can assist in the process for those switching from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa category in the UK. Our legal advisors can also help businesses understand the process and work with their migrant employees to secure their new UK visas. Give us a call at +44 (0)333 305 9375, contact us online or send us an email to speak to one of our immigration law experts today.

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    Is It Possible To Switch From A Student Visa To Skilled Worker Visa?

    Migrants can switch from tier four Student Visas to Skilled Worker visas inside the United Kingdom if they have completed their course or studies and have had a UK employer with a sponsor licence offer them employment. As well as this, the individual needs to ensure that they meet all of the eligibility requirements for a Skilled Worker.

    Since 2023, immigration laws have allowed individuals to apply for Skilled Worker visas before the end date of their course; however, the date of employment starting cannot be any earlier than the date of course completion. If this is not done, the individual would have to leave and then submit to gain a Skilled Worker visa from outside of the UK.

    If the individual is studying for a PhD, then the start date of a Skilled Worker visa can be no sooner than 24 months after the date of the course beginning.

    If an individual is on a short-term Student Visa in the UK, they will not be allowed to switch to a Skilled Worker visa.

    The main work visa scheme for migrants worldwide to enter the UK is the Skilled Worker visa. Those who obtain this visa are granted Indefinite Leave to Remain after being on this visa for five years.

    Are you an employer who wants to hire a student on the skilled worker visa? Speak to our immigration team today for help.

    Sponsoring A Student Skilled Worker: Key Requirements

    One of the most important requirements of hiring via the Skilled Worker visa route is that the organisation that is hiring migrant workers holds a skilled worker sponsor licence that is valid.

    It is also imperative that the organisation pays all relevant fees to recruit and sponsor visa workers on a points-based system; this includes the Immigration Skills Charge.

    Another important requirement for sponsoring Skilled Workers is to assign the worker a Certificate of Sponsorship. This will certify that the applicant and the role available are both applicable and meet the requirements of the visa.

    After this stage, the applicant will then make their skilled worker application to the Home Office using the Certificate of Sponsorship given by the organisation.

    This application needs to be submitted within three months after the Certificate of Sponsorship has been issued; however, it can also be no sooner than three months before the proposed start of employment date.

    Businesses that are sponsored licence holders in the UK are operating under the compliance duties of the immigration system regarding their sponsored workers. This means that they are obligated to notify the Home Office if there are unexplained absences or if the employee leaves employment with them early.

    If the licence holder does not comply with these duties, then this could cause penalties, which may influence the business’s ability to employ workers through this scheme.

    Eligibility Criteria For Switching To A Skilled Worker Visa As A Student


    For an individual to be able to switch from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa in the UK, they must meet the following criteria:

    • The individual must have completed their course. If they study for a full-time PhD, then the date employment begins can be no sooner than 24 months after the start of their course.
    • The individual must meet the minimum salary requirements. As new graduates, they may be able to switch to a Skilled Worker visa if they have a salary below £26,200 per annum regarding new entrants, or in the case of those with a Ph.D.
    • The applicant must have a job offer from an employer that is equipped with a sponsor licence for Skilled Workers.
    • The skilled worker job offer they have received must be on the list of eligible occupations.
    • The applicant needs to meet the requirements for the English language.
    • The individual should have sufficient funds to be able to support themselves with living costs in the UK. However, this is not necessary for those who have been in the United Kingdom for over a year on a Student Visa.

    What Are The Lower Salary Requirements?

    When an applicant is switching from a tier 4 to a tier 2 visa, the requirements will be different from what they have been in previous years. This is important to note for applicants and employers alike.

    New graduates who are entering the job market will often not meet the typical salary requirement of the Skilled Worker visa, which is £26,200. However, it is still possible for them to switch from a Student Visa to a Skilled worker visa if they get a lower salary and they fit certain criteria.

    • If an applicant is considered a new A New Entrant they only need to prove that they will be receiving 70% of the typical going rate for the job. This applies to those who are:
      • Under 26 years of age.
      • Are working towards gaining a recognised UK-regulated professional qualification.
      • Are working towards getting full registration or chartered status in the role that they are gaining sponsorship for.
    • Should an applicant hold a relevant PhD, they can switch from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker visa if their PhD is relevant to its subject or if it is a STEM subject. To check that the PhD is relevant, applicants and employers can check the list of Skilled Occupations with the Home Office.
      Those who are eligible will have PhD points for Skilled Workers. Those who are eligible will only need a salary that is 80% of the typical going rate if they have a PhD in a STEM subject; alternatively, if the PhD is not in a STEM subject, then the salary should be 90% of the typical going rate.

    Our immigration solicitors can help you switch your student visa to a skilled worker visa.

    How To Switch To A Skilled Worker Visa: The Process


    For an individual to swap over from a Student Visa to a Skilled Worker visa in the United Kingdom, there are several steps that the individual must undertake. The first step is gaining employment and getting a Certificate of Sponsorship from the employer.

    1. The individual needs to gain employment with an eligible employer within the UK and then needs to ensure that they have the Certificate of Sponsorship from this employer before they start their application with the Home Office.
    2. With the Certificate of Sponsorship, the applicant can now complete the skilled worker application form to switch their visa type, this is available on the website of the Home Office.
    3. Once the applicant has completed the application form, they need to pay any necessary application fees.
    4. The applicant will also need to provide proof of their identity. This can be done by attending an appointment for biometrics with their local UKVCAS service centre. This can also be done using the mobile phone app ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’.
    5. Finally, the applicant needs to upload any further supporting documents that may help their application.

    It is possible that an applicant could be asked to attend an interview with the home office before the granting of a Skilled Worker visa. This does depend on unique circumstances, however.

    Applicants must make this application before their present Student Visa expires; if they do not, they may be classified as ‘overstaying’. That being said, once the applicant has made their application, they are then allowed to remain in the UK as long as necessary to get a decision on their application.

    What Are The Necessary Fees For An Applicant To Pay?

    Applicants intending to switch their visas will need to pay specific fees. These fees are as follows:

    • £704 per person for a visa that lasts up to three years.
    • £1,408 per person for a visa that lasts more than three years.
    • £464 per person for a visa that lasts up to three years in a role on the list of occupation shortages.
    • £928 per person for a visa that lasts more than three years in a role on the list of occupation shortages.

    Additionally, applicants will also need to pay a fee for the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge. This allows applicants access to the NHS (National Health Service). This costs £624 per year.

    How Long It Takes To Get A Decision On The Visa Switch


    The amount of time it takes for an application to get a decision on a switch to a Skilled Worker visa can vary depending on the specifics of the application.

    Should the applicant be using the standard service, they can expect to receive a decision within 8 weeks. However, should the applicant wish to get a decision faster, an additional fee can be paid. These options include the following:

    • £500 can be paid for a priority service. This amount will provide the applicant with a response in five working days.
    • £800 can be paid as a super-priority service that grants the applicant a decision before the end of the next working day. If the appointment gained with UKVCAS is on a weekend day, this would be two working days.

    How Long Is The Skilled Worker Visa Valid For?

    Should a student migrant switch to the Skilled Worker visa, they will be permitted to stay for 14 days after the date that their current visa expires.

    When a Student Visa holder applies for a Skilled Worker visa as a new entrant, they will not be able to be granted any more than four total years. That being said, they can still continue to extend their visa as a Skilled Worker, but they will not be able to meet the required salary unless they rely on the salary threshold of a ‘new entrant’.

    On a standard Skilled Worker visa, entrants can see their visa last up to five years before it needs to be extended. A Skilled Worker visa needs to be extended or updated when it is due to expire or if the applicant changes employers or jobs.

    Is It Possible To Bring Dependents On A Skilled Worker Visa?

    A partner or children can apply to join an applicant who holds a Skilled Worker visa as dependents if they are considered to be eligible. Dependents will be required to complete separate applications from the primary applicant.

    If the dependent’s applications are successful, then their visa will expire on the same date as that of the primary applicant. If a child has two parents who have visas that expire on different dates, the date the child’s visa will expire will be the same as that of the parent’s earliest expiration date.

    For tailored advice by experts in the field, speak with us today

    How Can IAS Help?

    Switching from a current Student Visa to a Skilled worker visa can be complicated. The periods allowed for the switch and the process of gaining a valid certificate of sponsorship to complete skilled worker applications can be very complex and difficult.

    This is why, when it comes to UK immigration law, it can be very useful to seek out the assistance of immigration lawyers. The immigration lawyers at IAS are experts in dealing with student-to-skilled worker visa switches. IAS lawyers and legal advisers can advise employers and international graduates on visa fees, jobs on the shortage occupation list, and the skilled worker category.

    We can help you understand immigration rules for student visa holders and help those on or employing someone on the student route start the skilled worker visa application. Give us a call today at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online to get started on switching from Student Visa to Skilled Worker visa UK.

    We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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