If you are a Skilled Worker or old Tier 2 General visa holder and you are changing employment, you will need to make an application to the Home Office to update your visa.
Relevant changes in employment include:
- Changing job and changing employer
- Changing job from a role that was on the Shortage Occupation List to a role that is not
- Your job has changed to a different SOC occupation code
If you are a current Tier 2 visa holder working in the UK and any of the above apply, you will need to apply for a new Skilled Worker visa. This means evidencing to the Home Office that you meet all of the Skilled Worker requirements.
You will not need to apply for a new Skilled Worker visa if your job is taken off the shortage occupation list, but you stay in the same job with the same employer.
Skilled worker requirements
The Skilled Worker visa requirements must continue to be met when a sponsored worker is looking to change employers. These include having:
- a job offer from an approved employer;
- a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the employer;
- the job named on the certificate is at a suitable skill level and features on the list of Home Office eligible occupations;
- the salary meets a minimum requirement for that kind of job; and
- proof of knowledge of the English language.
To retain sponsored status, you will need to find employment with a licensed sponsor. Only employers that are licensed by the UK government can issue Certificates of Sponsorship.
You also need to confirm that the job is eligible for a Skilled Worker visa. The UK Home Office has published a list of eligible jobs, together with their occupation codes, on the gov.uk website.
The Office for National Statistics occupation coding tool can be used to look up a particular job title and find its occupation code.
Once you know the occupation codes, you have to check the ‘table of eligible jobs’. Only those codes in the table are eligible for the Skilled Worker visa.
Once you know that your job is eligible for the Skilled Worker visa, your employer can issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship. You will have to supply your Certificate of Sponsorship when you make the Skilled Worker visa application. Employers must write the occupation code on the CoS and specify the duration of the job offer.
As with the Tier 2 visa, there are specific salary requirements in relation to eligible jobs in the Skilled Worker visa scheme.
The general rule is that the worker must be paid at least £25,600 or the ‘going-rate’ for the job, whichever is the higher. Each occupation code has its own ‘going-rate’ and these are published by the Home Office.
If your new job is in the healthcare or education sectors then the going rate is based on the national pay scales in those sectors.
There are qualifications to the salary requirements in certain circumstances and as long as the worker will be earning at least £20,480. The worker can be paid between 70% and 90% of the going rate for their job if:
- the job is on the shortage occupation list;
- the worker is under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training;
- the worker has a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that is relevant to the job; or
- the worker has a post-doctoral position in science or higher education.
It should be noted that where a worker has a relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject apart from the STEM subjects, then their salary must be at least £23,040.
It is also important to note that in the case of items (b) and (d) above, the total amount of time that a worker on a Skilled Worker visa in these categories can stay in the UK is 4 years, and this includes time the worker has already spent in the UK on a Tier 2 visa.
If the worker already has a Tier 2 visa, then they will have had to prove their knowledge of English and submitted the required documents (for example, ID, bank statements, certificates). The rules state that you will only need to submit this documentary evidence again if you have been in the UK for less than one year.
What are the timescales?
You can apply to update your visa up to three months before the intended start date of your new job. While you are waiting for the application to be processed, you can carry on working in your current job and / or work out your notice period.
If your current Tier 2 visa is near to its expiry then you must make sure that you submit your application to switch to the Skilled Worker visa before the Tier 2 visa expires.
You are not allowed to travel outside the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, Ireland and the Isle of Man while your application is pending. If you do travel outside these places while before you have received the decision on your application, the application will be withdrawn unilaterally by the UK Home Office.
You are not allowed to start your new job with a new employer until you have received confirmation that your application has been approved.
How much does it cost to update my visa?
The cost of the Skilled Worker visa for the applicant depends on whether the certificate of sponsorship has been issued for under or over three years and whether the job is on the shortage occupation list. For example, if the applicant has applied for a Skilled Worker (Shortage Occupation) Health and Care Visa for less than three years then the fee is only £232. However, for a normal Skilled Worker visa for more than three years the cost is £1,408.
On top of this, the applicant will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is currently £624, and is payable upfront for the number of years stated on the certificate of sponsorship.
Losing a sponsored job
Losing a sponsored job, whether the worker was dismissed from their employment for a number of reasons including redundancy or reorganisation, or may themselves have opted to resign, will have an impact on the individual’s leave to remain in the UK, since their worker visa was dependant on having sponsored employment.
The visa holder who loses their job can still look for another eligible job and apply for a Skilled Worker visa with a different sponsor in a qualifying role.
There are also other visa types that the visa holder could consider, if finding an eligible job is not possible, such as a family visa.
However, if the visa holder is not eligible for any other type of visa and cannot find another eligible job, the law states that they will have to leave the UK within 60 days of being notified by the UK Home Office, or the expiry of their visa, whichever is the shorter. There is no grace period. Once the 60 days are up the visa holder has to leave, or they will be considered to be in the UK illegally.
If the visa holder does stay on in the UK illegally, it is highly likely that they will automatically be refused a visa if they apply to come to the UK in the future and / or that they will be deported from the UK.
We are specialists in UK business immigration, with substantial experience and recognised expertise in advising employers and workers on UK employment sponsorship, sponsor licence applications and management, and Skilled Worker visa applications. For specialist immigration advice to support your talent mobility and business operations, contact us.
Skilled worker change of employment FAQs
Can you change jobs on a Skilled Worker visa?
Yes, you can change jobs if you are on a Tier 2 visa. However, the Tier 2 visa has now been replaced by the Skilled Worker visa. You will need to make a fresh application for a Skilled Worker visa once your new employer has issued you with a Certificate of Sponsorship. Your new employer must be licensed by the UK Home Office to employ people on Skilled Worker visas. Your new job will have to be eligible for the Skilled Worker visa, and you must meet the minimum salary requirements. You cannot start the new job until the new Skilled Worker visa is in place.
What happens if you lose your job on a Skilled Worker visa?
If you lose your job and you are working in the UK on a Tier 2 visa then you will have to find another eligible job as soon as possible, otherwise you will have to leave the UK within 60 days of losing your job, or when your visa expires if that is sooner. An eligible job is one with an occupation code that is on the UK Home Office list on the gov.uk website. In addition, the eligible job must be with an employer that is licensed by the UK Home Office to employ people on worker visas. If you find an eligible job, your new employer will issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship and you can use this to apply to for a new Skilled Worker visa. The Skilled Worker visa has replaced the Tier 2 visa.
Can I change jobs on a work visa?
Yes, you can change jobs if you are on a Tier 2 visa. However, the Tier 2 visa has been replaced by the Skilled Worker visa. In order to obtain a Skilled Worker you will need to obtain a job offer from a government-licensed employer. The job must have an occupation code that appears on the Home Office approved list. If this condition is met, your new employer will be able to issue you with a new Certificate of Sponsorship and you can go ahead and make your application for the new Skilled Worker visa. However, you cannot start the new job until the new Skilled Worker visa is in place.
Can I work part time on Skilled Worker visa?
You have to earn the minimum salary threshold for your role. This is an absolute figure, not a full time equivalent figure. Therefore, if you are in a well-paid role, then you could work part time and meet the minimum salary requirement. However, shortage occupations must work a minimum of 30 hours a week.
Last updated: 27 February 2021