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What is the Application Process for a Tier 2 / Skilled Worker Change of Employer?

The chances are that as a migrant worker in the UK, at some point, you may want to change employer. After all, switching to a new employer is to be expected, especially if you want to take advantage of a new and exciting job offer, and you want to further your career. The problem is that as a migrant on a Tier 2 visa (now known as a Skilled Worker visa), you can’t just change employers as a settled person can. The Skilled Worker visa is heavily prescriptive in that you must stay in the same occupation and with the same employer to retain your visa status. Paradoxically, dependants of Skilled Worker visa holders are not restricted in their ability to switch employers, and they don’t need to be employed by a licensed sponsor. In this article, we will explain what a Skilled Worker visa (previously known as a Tier 2 General visa) holder needs to do to change to a different employer.

Do I Definitely Need To Apply To Change Employer?

Maybe not; there are some limited circumstances in which a Tier 2 or Skilled Worker visa holder can change employer without making a new application. If the change to a new employer is covered by the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, there is no need to apply for a new visa. This typically happens when a company is acquired by another; as such, it is deemed to be a transfer of employment.

It is important to note that even if you are staying with the same employer, but you want to change to a job with a different occupation code, you will still need to apply for a new work visa (this includes if your current job is on the Shortage Occupation List and the new one is not).

What Are The Eligibility Criteria I Will Need To Meet If I Want To Change Employer?

In addition to having current valid leave, you will need to conform to the same requirements you met when you applied for your current visa; as follows:

  • Your new job must be eligible for the Skilled Worker visa – this means that your new role must have an occupation code in the list of eligible roles published by the Home Office. Your new employer should be able to give you the Standard Occupation Code (SOC) for your new job.
  • Your new job meets the salary requirements; at least £25,600 per year or the ‘going rate’ for the role. Different salary requirements apply for healthcare and education roles. The lower salary threshold of £20,480 may apply if you have a role on the Shortage Occupation List, you have a PhD in a STEM subject, or you are a recent graduate under 26 years old.
  • Your new job must be with an approved licensed sponsor.
  • You will need a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK

You will also need to meet the English language requirement, however, as you will have met this when you applied for your current work visa, this should not pose a problem.

How Do I Apply To Change Employer?

The first point to consider is timing. The Home Office state that you can apply to update your visa up to three months before the start of your new role. You can continue to work for your current employer while your change of visa application is being processed. It is important, however, that you do not start your new job until you have had your visa change application approved by the Home Office. The Home Office also advise, “You must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until you get a decision. Your application will be withdrawn if you do”.

Your application will be completed online, on the Home Office website. You will essentially be following the same process as you did when you first applied for a work visa in the UK.

Beyond providing the new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), you will not need to provide additional evidence to support your change of employer application if you have been in the UK for less than one year. This is because the information you have already provided will be considered to be sufficiently current. If you have been in the UK on your current work visa for more than one year, you will need to provide the following evidence/documents to support your application:

  • your passport with a blank page
  • proof of your knowledge of English
  • a valid passport or other documents that shows your identity and nationality
  • your job title and annual salary
  • your job’s occupation code
  • the name of your employer and their sponsor licence number - this will be on your certificate of sponsorship
  • evidence that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK (i.e. bank statement)
  • proof of your relationship with your partner or children if they’re applying with you
  • a criminal record certificate - if necessary for your job
  • your UK PhD certificate or your unique UK NARIC reference number if your qualification is from outside the UK - you’ll need to apply for this through the UK NARIC Visas and Nationality Service.

Final Words

If you have any questions before you apply to change your visa because you have a new employer, or if you want to check that the role you are applying for is eligible under the Skilled Worker route, or if you have any other questions, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will able to assist you. As a current work visa holder in the UK, it is important not to jeopardise your current valid legal immigration status, hence understanding and following the rules is key. We wish you the very best with your new role with your new employer in the UK.

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