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Home Office updates UK switching rules

The Home Office have updated the UK switching rules and are now as shown below.

Switching into work permit employment


Nationals from non-European Economic Area (EEA) countries may apply to switch into work permit employment without leaving the UK provided they satisfy the work permits criteria and have existing leave as:

  • Student who has successfully obtained a degree level qualification at a UK higher or further educational establishment; or
  • Student nurse, overseas qualified nurse, midwife, postgraduate doctor, postgraduate dentist or trainee general practitioner who has a valid in-country work permit approval for employment as a nurse, doctor or dentist; or
  • Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme participant; or
  • Working holidaymaker who has spent more than 12 months in total in the UK in this capacity and who holds a valid in-country work permit approval for employment in an occupation listed on the Work Permits (UK) Shortage Occupations List; or
  • Highly Skilled Migrant; or
  • Innovator; or
  • Applicant who is undertaking the PLAB test, a clinical attachment or a dental observation post, who has a valid in-country work permit approval for employment as a doctor or dentist;
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland scheme participant who holds a valid in-country work permit approval for employment in Scotland.


Switching into the Highly Skilled Migrant category


Nationals from non-EEA countries may apply to switch into the Highly Skilled Migrant category without leaving the UK provided they have existing leave as:

  • Work permit holder; or
  • Student who has successfully obtained a degree level qualification at a UK higher or further educational establishment; or
  • Postgraduate doctor or a postgraduate dentist or trainee general practitioner; or
  • Working holidaymaker; or
  • Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme participant; or
  • Innovator; or
  • Applicant is undertaking the PLAB test, a clinical attachment or dental observer post, who holds a valid Home Office document confirming that he meets the criteria under the HSMP priority application process for general practitioners; or
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland scheme participant.

Switching into Home Office approved training or work experience
Nationals from non-EEA countries may apply to switch into Home Office-approved training or work experience without leaving the UK provided they have existing leave as a student.

Switching into the seasonal agricultural workers and sectors-based schemes
Switching into the Seasonal Agricultural Workers and Sectors-Based Schemes is not permitted.

Switching into the innovators category
Nationals from non-EEA countries may apply to switch into the Innovators category without leaving the UK provided they have existing leave as:

  • Work permit holder; or
  • Student who has successfully obtained a degree level qualification at a UK higher or further educational establishment; or
  • Working holidaymaker; or
  • Postgraduate doctor, postgraduate dentist or trainee general practitioner; or
  • Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme participant; or
  • Highly skilled migrant; or
  • Person intending to establish themselves or remain in business; or
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland scheme participant.


Switching into the persons intending to establish themselves in business category
Nationals from non-EEA countries may apply to switch into the persons intending to establish themselves in business category without leaving the UK provided they have existing leave as:

  • Work permit holder; or
  • Highly skilled migrant; or
  • Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme participant; or
  • Innovator; or
  • Student who has successfully obtained a degree level qualification at a UK higher or further educational establishment; or
  • Working holidaymaker who has spent more than 12 months in total in the UK in this capacity; or
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland scheme participant.


Switching into the retired persons of independent means category
Nationals from non-EEA countries may apply to switch into the retired persons of independent means category without leaving the UK provided they have existing leave as:

  • Work Permit Holder; or
  • Highly Skilled Migrant; or
  • Person intending to establish themselves or remain in business; or
  • Innovator.


Switching into the investors category
Nationals from non-EEA countries may apply to switch into the investors category without leaving the UK provided they have existing leave as:

  • Work Permit Holder; or
  • Highly Skilled Migrant; or
  • Person intending to establish themselves or remain in business; or
  • Innovator.


Switching into the representatives of overseas firms which have no branch, subsidiary or other representative in the United Kingdom category
Switching into the representatives of overseas firms which have no branch, subsidiary or other representative in the United Kingdom category is not permitted.

What happens if an application is submitted where the non-EEA national is not in the UK in one of the designated switching categories?
The presumption will be that applications made from non-EEA nationals currently in the UK in any other capacity will be refused.

What will happen to the payment submitted with the form?
Payment will not be refunded or returned where the non-EEA national is not permitted to switch. Payment is for the consideration process; therefore it will not be refunded or returned where the application does not meet the requirements of the scheme.

What if there are exceptional circumstances?
Individuals in the United Kingdom with leave to enter or remain in categories other than those stated above will not be allowed to switch except in exceptional circumstances.

These circumstances will be assessed by caseworkers on a case by case basis. Circumstances relating to the job, employment and labour market will not be accepted as exceptional circumstances. Only circumstances relating to the individual which would make it unduly harsh for them to return to their country of residence may be considered as exceptional.

It will not include instances where the entry clearance office in the individual's country of residence is closed. In such circumstances UKvisas will name a designated alternative post and the individual should be advised to seek entry clearance at this post.

Also, it will not include circumstances where the applicant has not been granted any leave to enter or remain associated with their current stay and who is unable to return overseas to obtain entry clearance.

A possible example of a compelling circumstance may include instances where the individual is unable to travel due to ill health.

Individuals in the United Kingdom who have not been granted leave to enter or remain associated with their current stay will not be granted leave to remain in the categories listed above.