The most common type of visa for qualified foreigners seeking employment in the UK is the Skilled Worker visa (formerly known as the Tier 2 general work visa). To be eligible for the programme, candidates must obtain a job offer from a person who holds a sponsor licence and make a minimum income. Changing jobs or employers while in the UK on a skilled worker visa is one of the things we are asked the most. This article will examine the choices available to those with a skilled worker visa who want to move occupations or companies (including Tier 2 visa holders who wish to change employer or job).
When holding a skilled worker visa, is it possible to switch occupations or employers?
As long as you stay with the same company and your new position has the same standard occupation code (SOC) as your current one, it is feasible to change jobs while holding a skilled worker visa. You must submit an application to upgrade your skilled worker visa if you want to change employers or move into a position with a different SOC.
According to the most recent immigration regulations, you must submit an application to upgrade your skilled worker visa if you want to:
- Switch to a new position with a different company
- Move jobs to positions with different SOCs (this only applies if you are not currently on a graduate training programme)
- Since your visa would have been obtained on the premise that you were filling a position for which there are known shortages of qualified workers in the UK, you must switch from a job on the shortage occupation list (SOL) to one that is not on the SOL.
Change of employment with the same company
You won’t need to file a change of employment application if you want to stay with your present company and:
- The SOC code for your existing employment and your new position are the same.
- Even though your pay has decreased, you still receive 70 points under the Skilled Worker application procedure (as you would have when you originally applied) if both your new work and your present position are on the shortage occupation list.
New employment with a different company
If you are switching to a different employer, you must complete a change of employment application. If you are moving to a new employer under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE), when your employment changes to a new owner/business because they have merged or been acquired, that is the sole exemption to this rule.
Criteria for Skilled Workers’ visas while moving employment or employers in the UK
You must fulfil the general eligibility conditions for a Skilled Worker visa. Just as you would have when you initially applied if you need to submit a change of employment or employment application to the Home Office.
Your employer will no longer need to undergo the resident labour market test (RLMT) to demonstrate that they sought to hire locally before extending an offer of employment to you if you have a Tier 2 general work visa.
You must satisfy all requirements for skilled workers, such as:
- The necessary minimum wage (see below for more details)
- Possess a position on the list of qualifying professions
- Satisfy the English language standards
- Do not fall under the standard reasons for denial (e.g. criminality or previous overstaying).
Additionally, if you are changing employers, the new company must obtain a licence as a Skilled Worker Sponsor (and this must be A-rated). After that, they’ll be able to provide you with a fresh Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
Minimum Salary Requirements
If you are looking for a new job or company, you will still need to fulfil the minimum wage criteria. You must demonstrate that you earn at least £25,600 per year, or the “going rate” for your position. If your payment is lower, you could still be able to apply in some situations.
The current immigration regulations state that if:
- You have a job on the shortage occupation list,
- Under the age of 26,
- A recent graduate or in professional training,
- Have a PhD in a STEM field,
You can receive a salary of between 70% and 90% of your job’s normal going rate (no less than £20,480 annually). If you have a salary of at least £23,040 and do not have a STEM PhD but do have a PhD that is relevant to your new position, you may still apply to move jobs.
If you move jobs or employers, how to update your Skilled Worker visa
If your company or position changes, you must follow these procedures to apply to update your skilled worker visa:
- Apply for a skilled worker visa online; keep in mind that you may do so up to three months before beginning new employment.
Application costs should be paid as follows:
- This costs £704 for up to a three-year visa.
- This costs £1,408 for visas lasting more than three years.
- Jobs listed as being in short supply cost £464 for up to three years and £928 for more than three years.
- Pay the £19.20 biometric charge.
- Pay the healthcare fee, which is £624 annually, if you haven’t already.
Send in the necessary paperwork, such as:
- ID you (e.g. your current passport)
- Proof that you make the required salary
- Your updated CoS
- Proof that you are fluent in English is required
If required, schedule a time to submit your biometrics at a UKVCAS service location (you may be able to use the Home Office mobile phone app instead).
For your new biometric residence permit, show up at your UKVAS service point appointment and supply your fingerprints and a picture.
AY & J Solicitors can help you
A Y & J Solicitors specialises in UK business immigration, and our advisors assist businesses and employees with UK employment sponsorship, sponsor licence applications and management, and Skilled Worker visa applications have years of experience and are recognised experts in their fields. Contact us if you need specialised immigration counsel to support your employee mobility and business operations.