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How Long Is The Tier 2 General Visa Cooling Off Period?

When you come to the end of your Tier 2 General Visa (perhaps by leaving a job or being made redundant) you face a decision: find a new Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder, switch to an alternative visa route (such as a Spouse Visa) or leave the country. If you choose the last option (leaving the country) you will have 60 days to do so. Once you return to your country of origin (or another country), you will then be subject to a so-called cooling-off period.

How Long Is The Cooling Off Period For A Tier 2 General Visa?

The cooling-off period for a Tier 2 General Visa is 12 months, meaning once you have left the country, you will be unable to apply for a new Tier 2 General Visa for at least 12 months.

There are, however, notable exceptions to this rule.

For example, if your new job is in the high earner category (more than £159,600 per year - or £120,000 if you are returning to the UK), you will be able to forego the cooling-off period. There are also a few other technical exceptions to the cooling-off period but these will not apply to the vast majority of cases.

It is useful to know that the 12 month period does not begin when you leave the country, it begins at the expiry of your current visa instead. This may be good or bad news depending on when you left the country. It is worth noting this 12-month cooling-off period can also affect applications for other visa categories, so it is best to check with us before lodging an application for an alternative visa.

Can I Switch Employers Instead Of Leaving The Country?

If you are still in the country then you may be able to apply for a new job. Depending on how long you have been in the country (and some other eligibility criteria), you may be able to take up employment with a new Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder. This is the usual route migrants take when they want to stay in the UK but do not want to remain with their current sponsor. Many people falsely believe they cannot change employers if they are on a visa - this isn't true. If you want to change employers, you will need to gain a new Certificate of Sponsorship from them and apply for a new visa.

You can also opt to switch employers if your visa has been curtailed due to a job coming to an end. For those who have resigned, lost their job or been made redundant, there is a 60-day window where you will still be able to try and get a new job. If you are not successful then you will need to leave the country. This is also the case where your Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder has lost their licence.

Can I Switch Visas While Still In The Country?

Yes, many of the UK's visa routes can be switched to from the Tier 2 General Visa. Options such as the newly introduced Innovator Visa are an excellent one for entrepreneurial migrants who have a business idea to bring to market. If you do not have seed funding (the Innovator Visa requires £50,000 seed funding to be available), then you can opt for the Start-Up Visa which is aimed at younger, less experienced entrepreneurs.

As well as the business-minded visas, you can also switch to a Spouse Visa if you are in the UK and have a spouse or partner who is either a British or EEA citizen, a person with settled status or has humanitarian or refugee protected status. This is an excellent option as it negates the need to work for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder, and allows you to work for whoever you choose.

Can I Apply For An Alternative Visa While In A Cooling Off Period?

Potentially, yes.

The 12-month cooling-off period attached to the end of a Tier 2 General Visa can have a knock-on effect on other UK visa routes. This could end up limiting your choices. It is often better to try and remain in the UK. There are several ways to achieve this by either switching employers or switching visa routes.

Where Can I Get More Help?

If you need more help with a query related to the Tier 2 Visa then please get in touch. Our experienced team of immigration solicitors can help you to know exactly where you stand with your situation. Make sure you contact one of our lawyers today for a free, no-obligation consultation and let us help you to make the most of your stay in the UK.

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O.L

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I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

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"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

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"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

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As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

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"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

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"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

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"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

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