You will need to apply before your leave expires and will need to have completed and passed one of the following at an institution with a Tier 4 licence:
- UK Bachelors degree or Masters degree
- Post graduate certificate in education or professional graduate diploma of education
- 12 months worth of study of a PHD during your most recent stay.
It may also be possible to switch categories if you are a:
- Student nurse
- Student re-sitting an examination
- Overseas qualified nurse
- Person writing up a thesis
- Post graduate doctor or dentist
- Student union sabbatical officer.
Normally the following points are required for a Tier 2 application:
- Attributes =50 points ( 30 points of which come from passing the Resident Labour Market Test)
- English language = 10 points
- Maintenance = 10 points
However, if you are switching from a Tier 4 visa, your Tier 2 sponsor does not have to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test. Instead, you will be given 30 points if you have a certificate of sponsorship, are applying to switch into Tier 2 ( general) and were last granted entry clearance or leave to remain in one of the Tier 4 categories listed above.
As part of the application you will need to provide various documents, these include an original degree certificate, academic transcript or academic reference on official headed paper.
If your application is successful then you can remain in the UK for up to 5 years depending upon how long the sponsor has assigned the certificate for. It may be possible to extend the visa but the maximum amount of time you can remain on a Tier 2 visa is 6 years. You may be able to apply for settlement after 5 year.