Will Switching From a Skilled Worker Visa to a Spouse Visa Affect My Job?
Imagine the scenario; you come to the UK on a Tier 2 (General) work visa (now known as the Skilled Worker visa) to pursue your career, and you end up meeting the person of your dreams. If this has happened to you, you may have made the decision to swap your work visa for a spouse/partner visa. But in doing so, you may be wondering what rights you will gain, and what rights you may lose. In this article, we will discuss whether it is possible to switch from a Tier 2/Skilled Worker visa to a spouse visa and retain the right to work in the UK.
Will Having A Spouse Visa Mean I Will Lose The Right To Work In The UK?
No, two of the benefits of having a family visa as a spouse or partner is that you are free to work and study without any restrictions. As such, you will be able to continue working with your current employer or find new employment. There are also advantages for your employer as you can change roles within your current employer without needing to apply for a new work visa.
What Should I Bear In Mind Before Switching To A Spouse Visa?
If you are considering making the switch to a spouse or partner visa, do bear in mind that any time you have built up towards indefinite leave to remain will be lost. For example, if you need five years of continuous-time in the UK to be eligible for ILR, and you have been in the UK already for four years on a Tier 2 work visa, then you need to build up another five years on a spouse visa to apply for ILR. On this basis, it may make sense to wait until you pass the five-year threshold and then simply apply for ILR. This will mean that you will be able to remain indefinitely and not have to pay costs such as the immigration healthcare surcharge. And you will only be one year away from being able to apply for citizenship.
Another factor to bear in mind is that your spouse or partner visa will only remain valid while you remain in your relationship. In the event of divorce or separation, you would need to apply for a new visa in order to be able to stay.
A UK spouse visa is typically granted for a period of 2.5 years, meaning that in order to meet the five years required for ILR, you will need to apply to extend your visa.
What Are The Eligibility Criteria For A Spouse Visa?
The main criteria for a spouse visa are as follows:
- You and your partner must be 18 or over
- Your partner must
- You and your partner must intend to live together permanently in the UK after you apply
You will also need to prove that you are:
- in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK, or;
- have been living together in a relationship for at least two years, or;
- a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner and will marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within six months.
The spouse visa also requires that applicants have a strong level of English and have can financially support themselves and their dependant family members. You and your partner/spouse need to provide evidence of a combined income of at least £18,600, and another £3,800 for your first child, and £2,400 for each subsequent child (assuming they are not British, EEA nationals, or permanently settled in the UK). Your income can come from employment, self-employment, pensions, non-work activities (e.g. property rental), or cash savings of over £16,000.
How Do I Apply To Switch From A Work Visa To A Family (Spouse Or Partner) Visa?
The application process to switch from a Tier 2 or Skilled Worker visa to a spouse/partner visa is completed online. When you apply, you will need to provide the necessary documents to prove your case; these include:
- all your names
- your date of birth
- your current passport or other valid travel ID
- copies of the photo page and any visa or entry stamps in your previous passports
- a copy of your biometric residence permit, if you have one
- details of any previous immigration applications you’ve made
- details of any criminal convictions
- your national insurance number, if you have one
- your parents’ date of birth and nationality if you’re applying from outside the UK
- your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
- a certified translation of any document that is not in English or Welsh
- proof of your relationship to your partner
- details of your children
- proof that you and your partner meet the income requirements (e.g. bank statements, payslips, or a letter from your employer)
- proof that you speak English – either a pass certificate for an English language test (speaking and listening), or a degree taught in English. If you are over 65 or from an eligible English speaking country, you will not need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency.
The application fee is £1,033 if applying in the UK for each person.
Switching from a Tier 2 or Skilled Worker visa to a spouse/partner visa can make sound sense, but you need to take a careful look at the pros and cons before doing so. While you will gain by being able to switch employers and roles without restrictions, you may lose any time you have built up to acquiring ILR. If you are still unsure of the best option, and whether you should switch to a UK partner visa, speak to immigration Solicitors who will be able to advise you on the best course of action.