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Tier 2 (General)

Tier 2 (General) is the most common category for international students to stay and work in the UK. Under Tier 2, you would be sponsored by an employer to undertake a specific job. In order to sponsor a worker under Tier 2, your employer must be listed on the UKVI Register of Sponsors (please note this is updated daily). Current rules require that you would only be eligible to switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2 if you are doing a job which is at degree level of higher (RQF 6).

See the section 'attributes' for further details about the minimum salary you need to earn, the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by your employer and the funds which you need to show in your bank account. 

Eligible family members can come to or stay in the UK as your dependants. 

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

If you are successfully recruited to a post, and you are eligible for Tier 2, your employer will issue you with a CoS number. You will need to write the CoS number in your Tier 2 application.


To be eligible for a CoS, you must be earning £20,800 per year if you are a 'new entrant'* or the salary listed for your occupation in the Tier 2 Codes of Practice, whichever is higher. In most cases, the salary listed for your occupation would be higher. 

*You are considered a 'new entrant' for example if you are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test due to the post-study work provisions AND you are not applying for a grant of leave which would extend your total stay in Tier 2 beyond three years and one month.

NB you must be undertaking a job listed as RQF 6 or above. 


You must show a minimum balance of at least £945 in your bank account for 90 days before you apply. The standard evidence rules apply, but you cannot use your parent's bank account.

Alternatively, your employer may be able to confirm that they are able to maintain and accommodation you for your first month of employment in the UK. Speak to your employer to check whether this is an option. 

English language

There are a number of ways which you can meet the English language requirement, including if your degree was taught in English. Your QMUL degree will meet this requirement. 

See the Tier 2 policy guidance for further details about the requirements. 

You can switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2 in the UK. There are special concessions for your employer if they are employing somebody who is switching from Tier 2 to Tier 4 in the UK. 

You must meet the below requirements.

You have:

  • completed, or applying no more than 3 months before the expected completion date of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree; PGCE or PGDE from Queen Mary University of London; or
  • completed minimum 12 months study in UK towards PhD or equivalent level, academic course delivered by a UK Higher Education Provider; and
  • current leave as a Tier 4 migrant and are applying from inside of the UK; and
  • held continuous leave which allowed study during study

If you meet the above requirements, you are eligible to switch to Tier 2, and there are some special arrangements for you. These arrangements are:

  • Your employer is not required to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)
  • Your employer does not need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge for you
  • A CoS issued to you does not count towards your employer's restricted number of certificates

You can only benefit from these special provisions if you are applying in the UK

You can explain to your employer the benefits of employing you, listed above, as sometimes employers are not aware of these benefits. 

student status letter can be used as evidence for your employer that you are within 3 months of completing your course. If you are a PhD student, you can request a letter from the Research Degrees Office. Medical and dental students can request a letter from the SMD Student Support Office. 

Your Tier 4 conditions allow you to start your job when you submit your Tier 2 immigration application (even if it is a full-time permanent job) if you have completed a degree-level course. If you are applying after 12 months of study towards a PhD, but before you have been awarded it, you cannot rely on this provision unless you have previously completed a degree-level course in the UK. In this case you would need to wait until you have received your Tier 2 immigration permission before you start a permanent full-time job. 

Once your Tier 2 visa has been granted, you are subject to the Tier 2 conditions,  which would allow you to work full time. However please check with your potential employer as some require that a student has successfully completed their course before allowing them to start work – this is not a visa requirement but may be a requirement from your employer.

You should discuss with your Tier 2 sponsor about when would be the best time to start work. Even if you could start your Tier 2 job before the UK Government makes a decision on your immigration application, your employer might not want you to do this as it could lead to problems if your Tier 2 application is not successful.

They should but not all employers know about the rules for employing graduates. The important things for a potential employer to know are:

  • Your employer does not need to satisfy the Home Office's Resident Labour Market Test and;
  • The Certificate of Sponsorship is not from the restricted annual allocation of Certificates of Sponsorship

Remember that you and your prospective employer can only benefit from the advantages of these new Tier 2 rules for graduates if you are making your Tier 2 immigration application within the UK, before the expiry of your current student immigration permission.

If your employer does not know about the new Tier 2 rules, you may want to show them the information on this website.

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