Switching from a Tier 5 visa – what are your options?

The Tier 5 visa is one of the most popular routes for people aged between 18 and 30, from qualifying countries, to get to live and work in the UK. However, as this visa is only valid for two years, and is not renewable, those wishing to stay longer will need to switch visas. We look at some of the options available.


A Tier 5 visa holder could apply for either an Ancestry visa or Tier 2 visa, depending on their work situation and family ties, if they wish to stay in the UK. These options both require that the applicant return to their home country to apply.

Ancestry visa

If you have a UK-born grandparent, you will be able to apply for an Ancestry visa. Once this is granted, you will be able to return to the UK, to live and work.

Tier 2 visa

If you have received a job offer or sponsorship opportunity during your two years in the UK, you can apply for a Tier 2 visa.

If you would prefer to stay in the UK without returning home, there are three visa options which allow you to do this:

  • Ancestry dependant
  • EEA family permit
  • Spouse visa

Ancestry dependent

If you are in a relationship or married to an Ancestry visa holder, you may become a dependent on their visa. This application may be made from within the UK.

When the Ancestry visa holder qualifies for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will be eligible to apply at the same time.

EEA family permit

For people who are in a relationship or married to an EU citizen, there is the option of becoming a dependent on their visa.

Spouse visa

If you are in a relationship or married to someone who is British or has settled status in the UK, you may apply for a spouse visa. However, this route has certain income threshold requirements: Your spouse must earn at least £18,600 per year in order for you to be eligible to receive this visa.

Have an obligation free discussion about your visa options with a UK immigration expert by giving us a call on UK + 44 (0) 20 7759 7527 or sending an email to immigration@1stcontact.com.


  • Faiza

    My husband have applied for tier 5 which will expire in September 2017. We do not suit the 3 visa options given above. Can we switch to tier 2 from tier 5? Thanks in advance.

    • http://www.1stcontact.com/ 1st Contact

      Hi Faiza, yes this could be possible if a Cos and employment was gained prior to the expiry of his visa.

  • bella

    I am on a tier 5 youth mobility visa and have held a full time job for the past 6 months. Is it possible to return home and apply for the Tier 2 visa without being sponsored by my employer (my employer wants to keep me as an employee but sponsorship is not an option)? Additionally I am wondering if it is possible to switch from the Tier 5 visa to the Tier 4 student visa?

    • http://www.1stcontact.com/ 1st Contact

      Hi Bella,
      You will need to be sponsored by your employer in order to apply for a Tier 2 visa. You will be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa once you have been accepted into an educational institution who holds a Tier 4 sponsorship license

  • Sharlene

    Hi, I’m on a Tier 5 visa and would like to apply for a Tier 2 (general) dependant visa WITHIN the UK. Is this possible? I’ve had conflicting responses that I’m unable to switch from my Tier 5 to the Tier 2 dependant within the UK and must return to my home country.

    • http://www.1stcontact.com/ 1st Contact

      Hi Sharlene,
      Unfortunately 1st contact don’t offer advice on this application type

    • http://www.1stcontact.com/ 1st Contact

      Hi Sharlene,
      You may switch within the UK.

  • Ariel Matho

    Hiya! I am in a relationship and getting married to a french national. We currently live in the uk where he is using his eu right to be here and I (australian) am on a tier 5 visa. We want to apply for an eea family permit after we get married. Can I do it from the uk and transfer from the tier 5 to the eea visa? Can you advise the best way to do this please?

    • http://www.1stcontact.com/ 1st Contact

      Hi Ariel,

      Once married you may be able to switch to the 5 year residence card from within the UK, this is provided your current Tier 5 visa is still valid.

  • Sarah

    Hello! I am currently on the tier 5 visa and would like to switch to the tier 2. Now I have read that as I never was on the tier 2 visa I qualify as New Entrant even if im 27 years old but also read some confusing blogs – can you confirm if this is correct? Do I qualify as New Entrant even if im over 26 years old?
    Many thanks!

    • http://www.1stcontact.com/ 1st Contact

      Hi Sarah,

      You will need to return to your home country to apply for the Tier 2 visa.

  • Drew


    I am currently on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa (expires Jan 2018). I have been offered sponsorship by a new employer, but it is unclear as to whether I need to return to my home country to switch to a Tier 2 General visa. Could you advise on this please?

    Many thanks

    • http://www.1stcontact.com/ 1st Contact

      Hi Drew,
      You will need to return to your country of residence in order to apply for the Tier 2 visa.

  • Ramy

    I am in the uk under tier 5 (government exchange) visa which will expire in mid june 2017. I am offered an extension of my job under tier 2 visa, but i have to have the visa in hand to be able to have the extension. Can i go home now and apply for a tier 2 visa and when i have it i come backto the uk and complete my tier 5 period then start the extension under tier 2? Or if i have the tier 2 it will cancel tier 5?
    My employer will provide me with Cos

  • Aya

    Hi there I’m on a tier 5 visa, I’m a waitress and my employer has offered me a sponsorship . I know my only option atm is tier 2 work sponsor . I was wondering how it all works is there a website that can tell me what to do step by step without confusion ? And what are the chances I get accepted ? I’ve been here 1 year and half come from Australia currently in uk. Would be much appreciated if I can get some sort of help as I’ve got only 6 months left here till I have all the information I need… Thank you !

    • http://www.1stcontact.com/ 1st Contact

      Hi Aya, this information you could find on the uk.gov website.

  • Josh

    I am currently on a tier 5 that is due to expire in January 4 2018. I have been in a relationship with a British citizen for 1 year. We have not lived together but intend to move in together. I am a primary school teacher in London but intend to move near Oxford. I wanted to change to a tier 2 visa but believe this might not be possible due to minimum salary requirements of 30,000. What are the rules for getting a spouse visa? What are my options to remain in the UK?

  • Angelica Tziotis

    My boyfriend is currently on a Tier 5 visa while I am here as an EU citizen. We’ve been together for 5 years, but would only be living together for 2 years at the expiry of his tier 5 visa. What is the possibility of applying for the EEA dependency visa while he is still in the UK? Or will we have to wait to be living together for two years, before we can apply (in which case his tier 5 would have expired and he’d have to go home first)?