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Switching to a Tier 1 visa

Published:Wednesday | May 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
John S. Bassie, UK

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am in the United Kingdom (UK) on a visa and I would like to know whether it is possible for me to switch from one visa category to a Tier 1 visa.

Any advice would be appreciated.

- KS

Dear KS,

It is possible for a person to switch to a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if that person is already present in the UK with either a Tier 2 (General) visa, or a Tier 5 (Temporary worker - Government-Authorised Exchange) on an exchange scheme for sponsored researchers; or that person may already hold a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa.

It should be noted that a person who is in one visa category must leave the UK and make the application from abroad if he or she would like to switch into another visa category. In addition, that person should apply before his or her current visa expires.

In order to meet eligibility to apply for a Tier 1, that person must first apply for endorsement as a leader or an emerging leader in his or her particular field or profession. A person applies for endorsement by completing two forms, and these are: the 'application for endorsement form' and the additional form as it pertains to the relevant field.

The applicant should read the detailed guidance on filling in the application for endorsement form and the additional guidance for applicants in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, medicine and digital technology if these areas apply to the applicant.

When applying

A person can apply to switch to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa when that person has received his or her letter of endorsement. It is important that the applicant read the full guidance before he or she applies. The applicant should then print and fill in the form and send it to the address on the form. It is important that the applicant note that he or she must apply within three months of receiving his or her letter of endorsement from the Home Office.

The fees pertaining to this type of application are as follows: for the Stage 1 - Endorsement application, PS437; for Stage 2 - Switch visa application, PS656; and for all dependents, PS1,093. Furthermore, the applicant and his or her dependents can also use the premium service to switch their visas. The dependent should print the form and apply in person at a premium service centre. The cost is PS1,493 for each dependent.

The process takes approximately eight weeks and the applicant will be contacted by the British authorities. The applicant should be aware that he or she will be contacted if the application is complex as this may take longer. Some of the reasons that may cause the delay could be if supporting documents need to be verified; if the applicant needs to attend an interview; a person may have personal circumstances - for example, a criminal conviction.

Once a person has made an application, he or she can stay in the UK until he or she has been given a decision as long as the applicant applied before his or her last visa expired. Also, if the applicant is successful, he or she can stay three years in the UK after switching to a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa.

I hope this helps.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (U.K.). Email:lawbassie@yahoo.com.