The period between employment switches can be tricky in any sector - adding in visas only furthers the confusion. In this article, we are going to look at your rights and responsibilities if you are trying to get started in your new role as quickly as possible while still awaiting your visa. We will give you advice regarding what you are able to do, as well as highlight how to avoid any potential harm done to your visa prospects by not staying on the right side of the law.
One of the biggest concerns for Tier 2 General Visa holders is whether they can actually change employers. Of course, in reality, they absolutely can, but this is where visa holders can become confused by not seeking appropriate advice. We are sure there are employers and agencies out there who try to avoid telling visa holders the truth when it comes to their rights. We’re here to try and give you the advice to point you in the right direction and help you to avoid falling foul of the law.
So, what is the truth?
Well, as you can imagine from the previous paragraph, it is absolutely possible to switch employers while you are in the UK on a Tier 2 General Visa. Depending on where you are in your journey, you can either switch to a new Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder or, if you have reached 5 years in the UK (eligibility criteria applies), you may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, thus being able to work for whoever you choose.
No, one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to the Tier 2 General Visa is that you are able to move as soon as you have accepted your new role (when switching). The real date that you need to wait for is the start date of your new Certificate of Sponsorship. You may or may not receive your Biometric Residence Permit within this period, but as long as your application has been successful, you will be able to begin your new role on the date specified on your Certificate of Sponsorship. You must not, however, begin working for your new employer before the date specified. Any well managed Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder will not ask you to do this, but there can be communication errors. You will need to ensure that you wait until your start date on your Certificate of Sponsorship before starting your new job.
If you are switching employer while in the UK on a Tier 2 General Visa then you need to ensure that there are no gaps between work. To avoid this, it is best advised that you try to ensure that the end of your current job and the start of your new one are as close together as possible. As your current visa is valid, you will be able to work for your current employer until the start date on your new Certificate of Sponsorship. While you may choose to leave before starting your new job, it is prudent that the gap is as small as possible to avoid any issues with UK Visas and Immigration.
As tempting as it may be to try and book a long holiday or take a gap between employment, we would advise against it. UK Visas and Immigration will be assessing your case during this period of time. During then, the best course of action would be to remain with your current sponsor for as long as possible before starting your new role.
While Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holders are somewhat rare (there are currently just over 30,000 in the UK out of roughly 5.7 million businesses currently operating in the UK as of 2018), it is entirely possible for you to apply for several jobs at once. Should you be in the rather fortunate position of being accepted for more than one position, it is important that you make a decision on the one you are going to work for. Once this decision is made, you will need to not only inform the company that you have chosen to work for but also the one (or perhaps more) that you have not. This is to avoid the creation of more than one Certificate of Sponsorship for you.
If it is already too late and more than one sponsor has created a Certificate of Sponsorship, it is important you cancel the ones you aren’t going to accept. To do this, you must contact the company to inform them that you are not accepting the role and they need to cancel the Certificate of Sponsorship. If you do not hear back from them within 5 days, you must make contact again. If after this reminder you have still not heard back, you will then need to write a letter to UK Visas and Immigration to explain the details of the certificate of Sponsorship that you are not accepting. This allows them to contact the Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder to check the details and cancel. It is vital that you follow this process to ensure that there are no negative impacts on your future dealings with UK Visas and Immigration.
If you need more help with a Tier 2 General Visa query then please get in touch. Our experienced team of immigration experts can help you to ensure that you have the best advice possible to make decisions regarding your future. Call today and a member of our team can discuss your situation in a free, no-obligation consultation - what do you have to lose?
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