A Tier 2 switch means that you transfer your visa from a different category to a UK Work Permit (Tier 2 Visa) without leaving the UK or making a new application for entry clearance. NB: This is different from changing Tier 2 sponsors - where you already have a Tier 2 visa but want to change employers.
It is a simple process and has become very popular in recent years due to the extensive changes to other immigration categories like scrapping the HSMP programme, removing the Tier 1 (general) category, changing the Tier 1 PSW criteria and repeated tweaks to the Tier 5 / Working Holiday Visa.
The Tier 2 program has been relatively stable - especially for those working within IT, Finance, Engineering and Telecommunications. These industries haven't been as badly affected by the introduction of caps and reduction in Tier 2 quota. Contact us if you'd like to discuss moving to a Tier 2 permit.
You can switch into Tier 2 (General) from the following immigration categories (this information is from the UK Border Agency - you can check the most recent here) :
- any Tier 1 category
- Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
- Tier 2 (Minister of religion)
- Tier 2 (ICT) provided your visa was issued before April 2011
- any Tier 4 category
- dependant partner of a Tier 4 migrant
- Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
- Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
- International Graduates Scheme (or its predecessor, the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme)
- Business and Commercial work permits (except multiple entry work permits)
- Sports and Entertainment work permits (except multiple entry work permits)
- Jewish agency employee
- Member of the operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline
- minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order
- overseas qualified nurse or midwife
- person writing up a thesis
- postgraduate doctor or dentist
- representative of an overseas business
- student re-sitting an examination
- student nurse
- student union sabbatical officer
*November 2011 newsflash*
If you are on a Tier 1 visa (any category) then you can switch to a Tier 2 (General) Work Permit in-country. This means your application will be processed without you having to leave the UK. This greatly reduces the expense and hassle of moving onto a work permit.