We recently blogged the new changes to Tier 2 which came into force on 6 April 2011. Tier 4 students are able to switch into Tier 2 which is not a change from the previous Rules, and Sponsors are able to apply for an unrestricted certificate of sponsorship (COS) in order to facilitate the full-time employment of a worthy non-EEA candidate who is switching.
Tier 4 guidance states that students must have successfully completed a course which lasted at least one academic year during their most recent period of leave as a Tier 4 student, as well as meet the full points requirement of Tier 2 to switch. However, we have received clarification from the UK Border Agency that Tier 4 students must have completed a full course of study. Therefore, completing one year of a three year course will not satisfy the requirements. Students should not have to prove that they have been awarded the qualification as long as they have sat their last exam and handed in their final piece of work.
This requirement is particularly important; Tier 4 students and Sponsors should be aware of this requirement as non-EEA nationals who are in the UK and on a course of study for less than one academic year (or even who are only half way through a longer course), will have to make an entry clearance application from outside the UK in order to re-enter under Tier 2. In such cases, Sponsors will have to apply for a restricted COS, which they ultimately need to plan and prepare for.