The Tier 4 Student Visa allows non-EEA students to study a range of courses at varying levels in the UK at a sponsored academic institution. Student visas are usually valid until the conclusion of the course and whilst it is possible to extend the Tier 4 student visa in order to study a new course or the same course at a higher level, ultimately most Tier 4 students will need to switch into another visa category if they wish to remain and settle in the UK. A popular example is a Tier 4 Student Visa switch to a Spouse Visa; if the student has a spouse who is a British citizen or person who is already settled in the UK. LEXVISA has assisted in many successful visa applications switching from a student visa to a spouse visa, and our team is always happy to arrange a consultation with one of our solicitors to discuss each matter in more detail.
What are the eligibility requirements for a Tier 4 Student Visa switch to a Spouse Visa from within the UK?
Unlike the Student Visa under Tier 4 of the Points Based System, Spouse Visa applications are considered under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules. The following requirements need to be satisfied in order for a Tier 4 Student Visa switch to a Spouse Visa to be a success:
Genuine and Subsisting marital relationship – Not only do Applicants need to prove that they are legally married to a British citizen or settled person, but they also need to demonstrate that that relationship is genuine and subsisting and not a sham marriage.
Maintenance requirement – Applicants need to demonstrate that they can be maintained and accommodated in the UK without recourse to public funds. Therefore, the Sponsor must be employed or self-employed earning the minimum income requirement or have the appropriate level of cash savings and the couple must be inappropriate accommodation.
English language requirement – Applicants switching from a Tier 4 Student Visa to a Spouse Visa should not have too many issues in meeting the English language requirement as they would have either had to sit an appropriate language test in order to get the Student Visa, or if switching once the course has been completed then the degree certificate (again at the appropriate level) will satisfy this.
The UK’s Immigration system is complex and it is also important that applicants seek proper legal advice before making any application to the Home Office to avoid a rejection and consequent adverse immigration history which could harm any future application.
What are the benefits of a Tier 4 Student Visa switch to a Spouse Visa from within the UK?
Switching from a Tier 4 Student Visa into a Spouse Visa from within the UK can have many benefits and can lead to settlement in the UK in 5 years if all of the requirements are satisfied. Some of the many benefits include students being able to switch from their Tier 4 Visa into the Spouse Visa at any time before their Tier 4 Student Visa expires, and still continue with their studies on either that course or any other course. Continuing further studies will also not require the Applicant to demonstrate academic progression, as they would if applying for an extension of the Tier 4 Visa. Individuals on a Spouse Visa are also not limited to the number of hours they can work as they are on the Tier 4 Visa. Many also take comfort in the fact that their visa does not depend on being sponsored by an institution which has many Home Office compliance obligations.
However, if the relationship between the non-EEA national and their British or settled sponsor breaks down, and they divorce, the non-EEA national no longer has the right to be in the UK on that visa and the Home Office will need to be informed. The non-EEA national will have to make an application for further leave to remain on a different basis if they wish to remain in the UK, or else they will have to make arrangements to leave within the given time period.
What other categories can I switch into from a Tier 4 Student Visa?
There are various other Tier 4 Student Visa switch options available for non-EEA nationals who are not married to a British national or settled person under the Points Based System and Appendix W. A highly popular switch is from the student visa to a Tier 2 work visa, which is an obvious and natural choice to go from education to employment. Applicants must receive a job offer from an employer who holds a valid Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, as well as be able to satisfy the maintenance and English language requirement. Tier 2 migrants can also have dependents on their visa. Tier 2 employers can also benefit from this switch, as they are not required to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test (“RLMT”) or pay the Immigration Skills Charge for Applicants switching from a Tier 4 Visa from within the UK as they would for entry clearance applications.
Prior to 6 April 2019, the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa scheme was also a popular application for Tier 4 Students to make in order to extend their leave to remain in the UK; however, this route is now closed to new applicants. Instead, the Start-up visa and Innovator visa routes have been created under Appendix W of the Immigration Rules. The Start-up visa allows non-EEA nationals to set up a business in the UK, and no investment is required; although an endorsement from either a business or high education institution listed on the Home office website is required prior to the actual visa application being made.
Another option for international students is switching into the Tier 1 Investor Visa category if they have at least £2million to invest in the UK and can meet all of the other requirements. Larger investments could also lead to accelerated settlement.
Using Legal Representation to switch from a Tier 4 Student Visa to a Spouse Visa from within the UK
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on the law and your immigration matter. You can instruct one of our immigration and visa legal representatives to successfully assist you with switching from a Tier 4 Student Visa to a Spouse Visa. Our solicitors and Barristers will help you comply with the Home Office’s requirements and meet the Immigration Rules.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject spouse visa applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your Immigration & Visa application succeeds, our solicitors and barristers will ensure all specified documents must be provided.
The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successfully switch from a Tier 4 Student Visa to a Spouse Visa from within the UK
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your prospects of submitting a spouse visa application from a Tier 4 Student Visa, before your application even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of a spouse visa application from a Tier 4 Student Visa application and are able to advise you in respect of your prospects and to ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
Our offices are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss switching from a Student Visa to a Spouse Visa.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.