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

If you have a Skilled Worker visa, you can change jobs as long as you stay with the same employer and your new job has the same standard occupation code (SOC) as your current job. You will need to apply to update your Skilled Worker visa if you want to change jobs or move into a position with a different SOC.

According to the current immigration rules, you must apply to update your Skilled Worker visa if you want to:

  • switch to a different job with a different company
  • switch to a job that has 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 was granted on the basis that you were filling a role for which there are known shortages of suitable staff in the UK.

Changing Positions or Jobs Within the Same Company

You don’t need to fill out a change of employment application if you want to switch positions inside your existing company 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.

Starting a new job with a different company

If you are leaving your current employer to work for a new one, you must fill out a change of employment application. The only time this doesn’t apply is when you change jobs as a result of a merger or acquisition and your employment is transferred to the new owner/business under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) legislation.

Skilled Worker Visa requirements when changing jobs or employers

A change of employment or employer application submitted to the Home Office requires the same general eligibility requirements for a Skilled Worker visa as the first application. Employers who wish to hire Tier 2 general work visa holders no longer have to demonstrate that they have exhausted all suitable UK-based candidates by completing a resident labour market test (RLMT).

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 occupations
  • 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 license holder (and this must be A-rated). This will then allow them to issue you with a new COS (Certificate of Sponsorship).

Minimum Income Requirement (MIR)

You must still earn at least the starting pay if you are looking for a new job or a new company. For this position, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’re earning at least £25,600 per year, or the “going rate” in your industry. It’s possible that even if your income is lower than average, you could still be considered for the position. If you have a job on the shortage occupation list4, are under the age of 26, are a student or recent graduate, are in professional training, or have a PhD in a STEM field, then you can receive a salary of between 70% and 90% of the normal going rate for your job (no less than £20,480 per year) and still qualify for immigration. You can apply to switch jobs if your current wage is at least £23,040 and you have a PhD in a field related to the one you want to work in, even if it isn’t in STEM.

If you change jobs or employers, you must update your Skilled Worker visa.

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 UKVCAS service point appointment and provide your fingerprints and a photograph for your new biometric residence permit.

How long does it take to change jobs while on a Skilled Worker Visa?

A decision from the Home Office on a job change or employer application can take up to 8 weeks. You might be able to get a faster decision if you pay £500 for the priority processing service (which guarantees a decision within 5 working days) or £800 for the super-priority processing service (for a decision within 1-2 working days). When you apply, you will be told if you can use the faster processing services.

Can I start a new job while my application for a new visa is being reviewed?

No, the Home Office makes it clear that if you need permission to change jobs or employers, you must wait until UK Visas and Immigration gives you permission (UKVI). If you change jobs before your application is approved, you might be breaking the rules about immigration. This is why you should apply as soon as you can (up to 3 months before you start your new job). But while you wait for a decision, you can keep working at your current job.

If you lost a job that sponsored your Skilled Worker Visa, you can apply for a new one.

If you have a Skilled Worker visa but lost your job recently, your employer should tell UKVI about this change. UKVI will then send you a letter saying that your Skilled Worker visa has been cancelled and that you have 60 days to leave the country or apply for another visa. In this case, you can do a few things:

Find another skilled job with a new employer and apply for a Skilled Worker visa in the UK. To be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa, you must meet all of the above requirements.
Use a different kind of visa (e.g. a family visa)
If you are eligible, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (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).
You will be able to stay in the UK while your application is being looked at.

What happens to your family if you get a Skilled Worker Visa and change jobs?

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 Atty Magsino helps you?

If you have a Skilled Worker visa, our immigration lawyers can help you with anything that has to do with changing jobs or employers. If you have questions or need help with:

  • If you have a Skilled Worker visa, you can switch to a new job or employer.
  • Rejection of a Skilled Worker visa holder’s request to change jobs or employers
  • The rest of your choices if you want to live, work, or study in the UK
  • Applying for visas for family members who depend on you

If you want to instruct me, please email donm@queensparksolicitors.co.uk or call us on 0203 643 7508 /07446888377. My name is Atty Magsino of Queen’s Park Solicitors.

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