UK: more students switching to skilled worker visa on arrival
Nicholas first began his career with Nottingham Trent University in the UK in international student recruitment. He has gone on to a range of directorate roles in the private sector with agency and edtech companies.
Changes to the skilled worker visa system mean that applicants are no longer required to hold a degree level qualification to apply.
Students who can secure a job offer from an employer approved by the Home Office, can then apply to switch from the student route visa to the skilled worker visa immediately, without any need to complete their degree.
The PIE News has discovered a growing trend of overseas immigration consultants using universities as a stepping stone to help clients enter the UK then switch to care jobs before they are required to pay full tuition fees.
This route offers a cheaper and faster pathway to full-time employment in the UK compared to the graduate route – which requires students to pay expensive course fees and maintenance for the duration of their course, before entering the jobs market.
In a now-deleted tweet, Lexan Law promoted the opportunity on social media, stating, “Attention all international students! New vacancies for care workers and health professionals in the UK with instant job placement. The only thing needed is for you to switch your visa with the skilled worker visa.”
Another consultant IIaahi Law Firm, celebrates the ease of processing the transfer, stating “another success of student switch study visa into tier 2 worker permit successfully in just a very short time”.
A potential student responds asking, “my brother successfully got sponsorship under care home tier-2 visa. He just came [for] 10 weeks [at university] in the UK before switching to tier-2 care assistant under reputed company without any hassle. Can you tell me how?”
The skilled worker visa, previously known as the Tier 2 visa, was redesigned to make applications smoother including a lowering of the salary threshold and the removal of the resident labour market test. If approved, candidates can work in the UK for up to five years before applying to extend their visa or apply for permanent residency.
This period correlates to the main autumn university intake in the UK and shows the biggest spike of skilled worker visas granted in the year.
There is also a correlation to the January intake with +67% increase year on year in Q1 with 11,139 visas granted in 2022. These numbers exclude applicants who have applied to extend an existing visa.
Higher education leaders may be puzzled by increasing drop-out rates from international applicants, often looking internally to service standards, agent networks or student support for answers.