The UK Border Agency announced on 22nd March 2011 that the current Tier 1 (Post Study Work) category will be closed from April 2012. The function of this category will be partially replaced with an expansion of the Tier 2 (General) scheme.

The new subcategory of Tier 2 will allow individuals graduating from a UK university with a recognised degree, PGCE or PGDE to switch into Tier 2 from their current student or Tier 4 student visa without leaving the UK. There will be no limit on the number of students able to switch in this way. In order to switch into Tier 2, a graduate will need to be sponsored by an employer holding a Sponsor’s licence under Tier 2. In addition, the role will need to be considered a graduate level position in line with the UK Border Agency’s occupational codes of practice.

As a concession to graduates who are able to switch into Tier 2, it will not be necessary for the sponsor to meet the usual Tier 2 requirement of carrying out the Resident Labour Market test.

Please note that, unlike the current Tier 1 (Post Study Work) category, applicants will only be able to switch into Tier 2 under the conditions mentioned above if they are in the UK and before their visa expires. Individuals unable to apply from within the UK will need to meet the usual requirements for Tier 2 (General) and will not benefit from the concessions offered to UK graduates still holding a valid visa inside the UK.

The fact that these changes have been announced may suggest that Students studying below degree level courses may not be able to switch into Tier 2 from within the UK from April 2012. The UK Border Agency has not announced any information on this issue and as such we are unable to confirm the situation for students studying for a below degree level qualification.

We would advise individuals who wish to remain in the UK after their studies to make an application for Tier 1 (Post Study Work) while the category remains open. For advice and assistance with making this kind of application, please contact us.