Switching from UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to Skilled Worker Visa
As we all know, change is constant, and the plans we have for today may be completely redundant tomorrow. For migrants coming to the UK, it might be that plans are altered after arriving in the UK, perhaps in response to a new opportunity or change in circumstances. Indeed, we are often contacted by individuals who have arrived at one visa type and require help to switch to another. In this article, we will take a look at whether and how it is possible to switch from a UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa to a Skilled Worker visa.
Can I Switch ‘In-Country’ From A Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa To A Skilled Worker Visa?
Yes, the immigration rules state that current visa holders in the UK, including those on a Tier 1 entrepreneur visa, can switch ‘in-country’ to a Skilled Worker visa. The only migrants who are not permitted to switch to a Skilled Workers visa are those:
- on a visit visa
- on a short-term student visa
- on a Parent of a Child Student visa
- on a seasonal worker visa
- on a domestic worker in a private household visa
- on immigration bail
- given permission to stay outside the immigration rules, for example, on compassionate grounds
This does not mean individuals in such circumstances cannot apply for a Skilled Worker visa; rather, they need to do so from outside the UK. As such, the main benefit of being able to switch to a Skilled Worker visa is that you can stay in the UK while your application is being processed. Dependants, including partners and children of the Skilled Worker visa main applicant, must apply separately for permission to stay in the UK. There is also a requirement that once you have submitted your application to switch to a Skilled Worker visa, you must not travel outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man (i.e. the common travel area) until you receive your decision from the Home Office. If you do leave the country, there is a risk your application will be withdrawn.
Your Skilled Worker visa may be granted for three or five years. After five years, you can choose to apply for an extension or for indefinite leave to remain (i.e. permanent residency).
What Are The Eligibility Criteria For A Skilled Worker Visa?
Before proceeding down the route of switching visas, it is essential that you check you are eligible for a Skilled Worker visa. In order to make a successful application, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Have a job offer from a licensed sponsor
- Your employer must have issued you with a valid ‘certificate of sponsorship’
- The job for which you are being employed in the UK must be on the list of eligible occupations
- You must meet the minimum salary requirements – this is typically £25,600 but depends on the ‘going rate for your occupation’
- You must meet the English language requirement – this means you read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. This requirement can also be met by having a degree or higher-level qualification that was taught in English, or if you are from one of the exempt countries.
The Skilled Worker visa is part of the ‘points-based’ system, which means that when you apply, you will need to score a minimum number of points in order to be eligible. This is currently set at 70 points, which are awarded as follows:
- An offer of a job from a licensed/approved sponsor: 20 points (mandatory)
- A job at the appropriate skill level: 20 points (mandatory)
- Speaks English at the required level: 10 points (mandatory)
- A salary of £20,480 to £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher): 0 points (Tradeable)
- A salary of £23,040 to £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher): 10 points (Tradeable)
- A salary of £25,600 or above or at least the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher): 20 points (Tradeable)
- A job in a shortage occupation: 20 points (Tradeable)
- Education qualification: PhD in a subject relevant to the job: 10 points (Tradeable)
- Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job: 20 points (Tradeable)
All applicants are required to meet the mandatory points requirements. In addition, points can be traded (those listed as ‘tradeable’); for example, holding a PhD in a STEM subject may mean applicants score enough points even if their salary is too low.
How Do I Switch From A Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa To A Skilled Worker Visa?
To make the switch, you need to submit a new Skilled Worker visa application within the UK. Once you have a job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), you will then need to complete the online application form. As part of this process, you will need to pay the application fee of £704 per person (if applying for up to three years), or £1,408 per person (for more than three years). If your role is on the shortage occupation list, this is reduced to £464 and £928, respectively. If you are from a country in the EU, this is further reduced by £55. In addition, you will also need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge of £624 for each year you will be in the UK. You will also need to show you have sufficient funds to support yourself while in the UK; by showing you have £1,270, which has been in your bank account for 28 days. However, you will not need to show evidence of support funds if you have already been in the UK for one year on a valid visa. And finally, you will need to prove your identity, either by using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app or by attending a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point. When you apply, you will be advised which option to use.
The process of switching from a Tier 1 entrepreneur visa to a Skilled Worker visa should be routine and straightforward, as long as you are eligible and have no adverse immigration history. To boost your chances of being granted your Skilled Worker visa, it is always advisable to have an immigration solicitor review your application and evidence documents prior to submission.