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Changing Jobs or Employers Whilst on a Skilled Worker Visa (Formerly Tier 2)

The Skilled Worker visa (formerly the Tier 2 general work visa) is the most popular visa for skilled foreign nationals who wish to work in the UK. The scheme requires applicants to have a job offer from a sponsor licence holder and earn a minimum salary to qualify. One of the questions we are asked most often is whether it is possible to change job or employer while in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa. In this article, we’re going to look at the options for Skilled Worker visa holders who wish to switch jobs or employers (including Tier 2 visa holders who wish to change employer or job).

Can you change jobs or employers while on a Skilled Worker Visa?

It is possible to change job on a Skilled Worker visa, as long as you remain with the same employer and your new role has the same standard occupation code (SOC) as your current position. If you wish to change employers or move to a role with a different SOC, you will need to apply to update your Skilled Worker visa.

The current immigration rules state that you will need to apply to update your Skilled Worker visa if you wish to:

  • change to a new role with a different employer
  • change to a job with a different SOC (this only applies if you are not currently on a graduate training programme)
  • change from a job on the shortage occupation list (SOL) to a job that is not on the SOL – this is because your visa would have been granted on the basis that you were filling a role for which there are known shortages of suitable staff in the UK.

Changing Jobs with the same employer

If you plan to change job with your current employer, you will not need to submit a change of employment application if:

  • your new job has the same SOC code as your current job
  • your current job is on the shortage occupation list, and your new job is also on the list
  • you still score 70 points under the Skilled Worker application process (as you would when you applied in the first place) – even if your salary has been reduced.

Changing Jobs with a new employer

You will need to submit a change of employment application if you are changing to a different employer. The only exception to this is if you are transferring to a new employer under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) – whereby your employment moves to a new owner/business because they have merged or been purchased.

Skilled Worker Visa requirements when changing jobs or employers

If you need to submit a change of job or employer application to the Home Office, you will need to meet the general eligibility requirements for a Skilled Worker visa, as you would have when you first applied. If you hold a Tier 2 general work visa, your employer will no longer need to complete the resident labour market test (RLMT) to prove that they have tried to recruit within the UK before offering you a job.

You will need to meet all of the Skilled Worker criteria, including:

  • the minimum salary requirement (see below for more details)
  • have a job on the list of eligible occupations1
  • meet the English language requirements
  • not meet any of the general grounds for refusal (e.g. criminality or previous overstaying).

In addition, if you are switching to a new employer, they must be a Skilled Worker sponsor licence holder (and this must be A-rated). This will then allow them to issue you with a new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)2.

Minimum salary requirement

As when you first applied, you will need to meet the minimum salary requirement if you are applying to change job or employer. You will need to show you have a salary of at least £25,600 or your jobs ‘going rate’3. You may be eligible to apply if you have a lower salary in certain circumstances. The current immigration rules state that you can receive a salary of between 70% and 90% of your job’s normal going rate (no less than £20,480 per year) if you have a job on the shortage occupation list4, you are under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training, or if you have a PhD in a STEM subject. If you do not have a STEM PhD, but you have a relevant PhD for your new job, you can still apply to change your job if you have a salary of at least £23,040.

How to update your Skilled Worker visa if you change job or employer

To apply to Update your Skilled Worker visa, if you change job or employer, you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Submit an online Skilled Worker visa application5 - note you can apply to update your visa up to 3 months prior to starting your new job.
  • Pay the application fee as follows:
    • For a visa of up to 3 years, this is £704
    • For a visa of more than 3 years, this is £1,408
    • The jobs on the shortage occupation list, this is £464 for up to 3 years and £928 for more than 3 years
  • Pay the biometric fee of £19.20
  • Pay the healthcare surcharge (if you have not already done so) – this is £624 per year
  • Submit the required documents, including:
    • Your ID (e.g. your current passport)
    • Evidence you meet the salary requirement
    • Your new CoS
    • Evidence you meet the English language requirement
  • Book an appointment with a UKVCAS service point to provide your biometrics if requested to do so (you may be able to use the Home Office mobile phone app instead).
  • Attend your UKVAS service point appointment and provide your fingerprints and a photograph for your new biometric residence permit.

How long does it take to switch to a new job on a Skilled Worker Visa?

It can take up to 8 weeks to receive a decision from the Home Office for a change of job or employer applications. You may be able to receive a faster decision by paying £500 for the priority processing service (this provides a decision within 5 working days) or £800 for the super-priority processing service (for a decision within 1-2 working days). You will be advised when you apply if you can use the faster processing services.

Can I begin a new job while my new visa application is being processed?

No, the Home Office is very clear that if you need permission to change your job or employer, you need to wait until you receive approval from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Switching jobs before your application is approved may be a breach of the immigration rules. This is why it is important to apply as early as possible (up to 3 months before you start your new job). You can carry on working in your current job, however, while you are waiting for a decision.

If you have lost a sponsored job on the Skilled Worker Visa route

If you hold a Skilled Worker visa but have recently lost your job, your employer is supposed to inform UKVI of this change of status. UKVI will then write to advise that your Skilled Worker visa has been curtailed, and you have 60 days to leave the country or apply for another visa. In this case, you have a number of options:

  • Find another suitable skilled role with a new employer and submit a Skilled Worker visa application within the UK – you will need to meet all of the eligibility criteria listed above for a Skilled Worker visa.
  • Apply for a different type of visa (e.g. a family visa)
  • Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain if you are eligible (i.e. if you have already been in the UK for the qualifying time – typically 5 years or 10 years under the long residence route).

While your application is being processed, you will be able to remain in the UK.

What happens to your dependants if you change jobs on a Skilled Worker Visa?

If your dependant family members are currently in the UK with you, you can be assured that they will be able to stay under their current dependant visa while you complete the process of changing your job or employer. If your application is approved, they will be able to stay in the UK with you.

If you are not successful in gaining permission to change your job or employer and you decide to leave the UK, your family members will also lose their right to stay in the UK on their dependant visa. This is because the dependant family visa is granted only on the basis that the main visa holder retains their Skilled Worker visa status. If you are unsure of your rights and those of your family members in the UK with you, it is imperative to speak to an immigration Solicitor who can explain these to you and ensure your right to remain is protected.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

Our immigration Solicitors can handle any matters relating to changing job or employer on a Skilled Worker visa. Contact our team if you need advice or help with:

  • Switching to a new job or employer as a Skilled Worker visa holder
  • Refusal of an application to switch job or employer as a Skilled Worker visa holder
  • Your other options if you wish to live, work, or study in the UK
  • Applying for visas for your dependant family members

References

1 GOV.UK: List of eligible occupations

2 GOV.UK: Occupation codes

3 GOV.UK: Going rates

4 GOV.UK: Shortage occupations

5 GOV.UK: Skilled worker visa application

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