Tier 2 (General) Graduates
If you have been offered a skilled job in the UK or if you are from outside the outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, you can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa for international graduates.
Requirements in order to apply:
- Your employer must have a Tier 2 sponsor licence
- Your job must have a particular skills level
- There is a minimum wage level of £20,800, though this depends on the job and can be higher
- Usually the job must have been advertised as required by the Home Office, but most Tier 4 students who have graduated recently are exempt from this advertising requirement (resident labour market test)
- You have to prove that you have English language skills, which you meet if you have a UK degree
- You have to meet the maintenance requirement
- If you want to, or must, apply outside the UK, or if you apply in the UK and you have immigration permission as a Tier 4 partner, your job must score a minimum number of points.
- A Guide for Employers to recruit international graduates has been prepared by the International Task Group of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS). UKCISA also provide useful information.
Changing your Tier 4 into a Tier 2 visa
You can only switch from a Tier 4 into Tier 2 from within the UK if you meet all the following criteria:
- You have a valid Tier 4 visa which has not expired
- You have completed a UK recognised bachelor or postgraduate degree e.g. Bachelors or Masters. (Postgraduate diploma or certificates are not eligible) or have completed at least one year of a PhD. (In the past it was a requirement to have "successfully completed" a course, but this changed in January 2018. Read the guidance carefully for the evidence you are required to provide to show completion of the course.) Please note that although the rules have changed, the policy guidance currently suggests that, unless you have actually received your results, you will need to meet the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) in order to switch to Tier 2. We are currently seeking clarification from the Home Office on this point. If you have obtained your final result and have evidence of this then your employer will not need to conduct a RLMT as long as you are applying in the UK. UKCISA's website contains more guidance.
- You studied your degree at a UK institution which holds a licence to sponsor Tier 4 students (City does)
- You have a Certificate of Sponsorship from an employer who is on the list of registered sponsors with the Home Office.
- You must be able to show that you have held funds of £945 in an account that is acceptable to the Home Office for the latest 90 consecutive days before you apply. Alternatively, you do not have to provide any evidence of funds if your Tier 2 sponsor is willing to confirm on your certificate of sponsorship that you will not claim public funds during your stay in the UK with Tier 2 immigration permission.
- If you received official financial sponsorship within the last 12 months of your studies you will need permission from your official sponsor in order to extend your leave in the UK.
You can work full time after the official end date of your course (as stated in your CAS) as this is considered to be vacation period. However, you are still tied to all your Tier 4 conditions, so cannot take up a full time permanent role, be self-employed or work as a professional sportsperson or entertainer. If you have been offered a job but are waiting for results before you can apply for Tier 2, your employer may be able to employ you on a temporary contract during this period. You can commence a permanent job with your new sponsor once you have successfully completed your course (i.e. obtained results) AND submitted your Tier 2 application if you have already successfully completed your course, otherwise you will still be limited to a temporary contract; if you are still studying for a PhD and have not yet completed your course you cannot work full time for your new employer until your Tier 2 leave has been granted, since you are still tied to your Tier 4 conditions and considered to be in "term time". UKCISA provides further guidance on this.
Extending your Tier 2 visa
You can usually apply a Tier 2 visa for an initial 3 years and then extend it for another 2 years. However, you can also apply for a Tier 2 visa for up to 5 years in first instance by paying a higher application fee. Details of current fees can be found here.