Eligibility Criteria for UK Tier 2/Skilled Worker Visa Extension Under The Same Employer
If you are currently in the UK on a Tier 2 visa (now called a Skilled Worker visa) which is due to end in the coming months, it is essential that you review your options as soon as possible. Whether you wish to extend your visa, switch to another visa, apply for indefinite leave to remain, or leave the UK, by deciding what you will do and what this involves in good time, you can alleviate considerable stress and uncertainty from yourself and your family. Unfortunately, some migrant workers in the UK don’t look at their next steps until their visa is due to run out, leaving them at risk of inadvertently overstaying. In this article, we will review what is involved in extending a Tier 2 / Skilled Worker visa if you are staying with your existing employer.
Have You Considered ‘Indefinite Leave To Remain’?
It is important to remember that if you have already been in the UK for five years on your current Tier 2/Skilled Worker visa, you may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) instead of applying for an extension. This option is well worth considering if you plan to remain in the UK long term, or even permanently. With ILR, you will be able to stay in the UK without being subject to immigration control. You will also not need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge, and you can apply for citizenship after one year.
Can I Extend My UK Work Visa?
On a Skilled Worker visa, it is possible to remain in the country for five years before it needs to be extended. Broadly speaking, as long the factors which applied when you were granted your current work visa still apply, then you should be granted an extension. The immigration rules state, “You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements”.
If you do plan to extend your work visa, you will need to:
- have the same job as when you were given your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK
- have a job which is in the same occupation code as when you were given your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK
- still, be working for the employer who gave you your current certificate of sponsorship (CoS)
You will also need to ensure you meet the salary requirements for a visa extension. Here there is a small nuance which you should be aware of if you received your current CoS before 24th November 2016. The current eligibility rules state that those who received their CoS before this date and wish to apply to extend their visa before 24th May 2023 will need to be paid at least £20,800 per year (unless the ‘going rate’ for the role is higher). Those who received their CoS after 24th November 2016 need to meet the newer salary requirement of £26,500 per year (or the going rate for the role). There are different rules which apply to those in healthcare and education jobs.
Healthcare Workers May Be Entitled To A Free Work Visa Extension
If you are a healthcare worker in the UK, and your work visa is due to expire, you may be entitled to receive a free one-year extension. This is a temporary concession due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To get the extension, you must:
- have a visa that expires between 1st October 2020 and 31st March 2021
- work for the NHS or an independent healthcare provider in an eligible profession
This is available to those in certain medical and health professions including, biochemists, biological scientists, dental practitioners, health professionals, medical practitioners, medical radiographers, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, ophthalmologists, paramedics, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, social workers, speech and language therapists, and therapy professionals. Family members of healthcare workers may also be able to get a one-year extension.
There has been some confusion regarding this scheme, with some healthcare workers whose visas were due to expire believing it would be automatically extended. This has resulted in many people overstaying unintentionally. The new process requires your employer to tell UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that you are eligible for the extension, and you can then apply online. If you have not been advised by your employer that you can apply for a free extension, speak to your human resources department as soon as possible to confirm your eligibility.
How Do I Extend My Tier 2/Skilled Worker Visa?
The application for a work visa extension is completed online on the Government’s Home Office website. As part of the application process, you may be asked to:
- provide your fingerprints and a photograph (biometric information) at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point - this is to get a biometric residence permit, or;
- use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document
The application fee depends on how long you are extending for, as follows:
- up to three years - £704 per person
- more than three years - £1,408 per person
For roles on the shortage occupation list, the fee is reduced to £464 and £928 respectively. Those from any of the following countries will receive a discount of £55: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.
Applicants will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge of £624 per year.
You can expect to receive a decision on your visa extension decision within eight weeks.
The process of applying to extend your work visa should be very straightforward provided that you a) are still with the same employer and still meet the eligibility criteria, b) you apply before your visa expires, and c) you provide the information and documentation required. If you need any assistance with your application, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to explain your options and guide you through the process.