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How to switch immigration categories into the skilled worker category (Tier 2 General) | Immigration Matters

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The UK Border Agency’s website contains detailed information on what immigration categories you can switch from in to the skilled worker category (Tier 2 General) of the points-based system to work, assuming you are currently in the UK.

The website also contains a useful Points Calculator tool, which allows you to calculate how many points you have and to see if you may be eligible to work in the UK under the points-based system.

You can switch in to the skilled worker category (Tier 2 General), subject to meeting the points based requirements, from the following immigration categories:

  • highly skilled worker (tier 1)
  • sponsored skilled worker (tier 2)
  • student (Tier 4)
  • student nurse
  • student re-sitting an examination
  • person writing up a thesis
  • overseas qualified nurse or midwife
  • postgraduate 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)
  • a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
  • a participant in Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
  • minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order
  • member of the operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline
  • innovator
  • a Jewish agency employee

If you are not in any of these categories, you will have to leave the UK and apply for a visa at your local entry clearance post – British Embassy.

You must have worked in the job you have now for your current sponsor for at least six months before applying under Tier 2. You must also continue to work for your sponsor in the job you have now.

If you have not worked for your potential sponsor for at least six months before you apply, your sponsor will need to meet the ‘resident labour market test’ unless the job is on the ‘shortage occupation‘ list.

The care industry employs thousands of care workers on student visas taking NVQ courses in Health and Social Care. Many of these workers would naturally like to switch into a work permit, or Tier 2 as it is now known, after completing their NVQ3 qualification.

The rules do allow qualified students to switch into Tier 2, subject to meeting the points based criteria and finding an employer who is registered as a Sponsor.

The independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recently recommended that the qualification threshold for overseas Social Care Workers be changed to NQF (National Qualification Framework)/NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) Level 2 and the minimum salary cut from £8.80 to £7.80.

See: New Government-approved shortage occupation lists for Tier 2 of the Points Based System 

See video:

Post-study category

You can automatically claim a useful 30 points if you are switching from:

  • the post-study worker category of tier 1 or
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme or
  • International Graduate Scheme (formerly known as the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme)

Employers wishing to sponsor migrant workers should visit the Working in the UK section of the UK Border Agency Website.

Registering as a Sponsor under Tier 2 can take several months, so employers need to plan ahead if they want to take on new overseas workers or renew existing Work Permits.

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

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13 Responses to “How to switch immigration categories into the skilled worker category (Tier 2 General)”
Read them below or add one

  1. Work Permit actually refers to a pre-points based system permit to work. Although the term is still used employers now need to apply as sponsors under tier 2 of the points system to employ non-EU migrant workers and issue certificate of employment to the worker. See: Sponsoring Migrant Workers (UK Border Agency):
    The worker then applies for the working visa and must earn enough points to qualify. See: Working in the UK –
    EU migrants from Bulgaria and Romania have different rules and can plly for a work permit or yellow card to work in the UK.
    See also:

  2. please can you help clarify what the UK border agency means by saying work permit holder. I am currently on a post study work visa. Can I use that to claim 20points for work permit. I am hoping to switch to Tier 2 General

  3. Biju P A says :

    I am a NVQ4 (Health and Social Care) student finishing my studies in December. After that care can I switch to Tier2 categor. And what are the minimum requirements for that? Awaiting to hear from you.. Thanks

  4. emirtrota says :

    im in a tier 4 category and, i have finish nvq3 course and a practical nurse course ,how can i swicth into tier2 or working permit thanks.

  5. UK Border Agency website

  6. I’m studying NVQ level 3 and almost completed it. I’m a permanent residence of Italy but have not acquired italianian citizenship. As an NVQ- HSC)student I am working while studying in a renown Care organisation for over a year. Is it possible for me to apply or switch on to work permit as a senior carer? What are the requirements?Thank you so much.

  7. charisse santos says :

    Hi. I am a student here in the uk and finished my ONP already. My student visa is expiring in August. Will I be able to switch to work permit? Please reply. Or shall I just enrol in another course and extend my student visa?

  8. Hi Charles,
    I’m studying NVQ level 3 and almost completed it.Am registered Nurse from Philippines.Is it possible for me to apply or switch on to work permit as a senior carer?What are the requirements?Thank you so much.

  9. yangchen says :

    hello Charles,
    Am qualified nurse from India and here am on student visa. I completed my NVQ level 3. So, is’t possible for me to switch on to work permit as senior carer?

  10. Not for an NVQ3, but you could apply under Tier 2 for a work permit

  11. sher francis carpena says :

    im currently studying here in uk i’m doing nvq3 i’m a filipino citezen and my student visa is up to august 2011. after finishing my nvq3 can i apply for the post-study category visa.


    I have a question about coming to UK as a nurse,please may I know if I can come before getting the NMC letter?
    Please may I hear from you.


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