Tier 2 Changes of Employment
Those in the UK as Tier 2 General migrants need to be sponsored by an employer – but this does not mean that they have to stay with the same employer throughout their time as a Tier 2 General migrant. They may change employer, but they will need to obtain sponsorship from the new employer and apply for a new Tier 2 General visa. This also means that if the migrant continues to work with the same employer, but their job changes, they might need to make a new visa application.
This flexibility is helpful for both businesses and employees. It gives employers more options in who they can employ and they can headhunt from competitors. A business can also move employees to where they are needed within the organisation. On the other hand, employees can request to move into a new role in their current organisation. They can also seek a new employer without fear of jeopardising their immigration status.
Change of employment within the same company
If the migrant will have a new job, but the new job is within the same occupational classification (as set out in the Home Office’s Codes of Practice) then a change of employment application will not be necessary. The Home Office should be notified using the Sponsor Management System. It is very important that the Codes of Practice are checked meticulously to ensure that the new role is truly within the same occupation. It is also important to ensure reporting deadlines are met.
If the job is in a new occupational classification then the migrant must make an application for further leave to remain in the UK, sponsored by the employer. The role must be advertised (unless it appears on the Shortage Occupation List or the migrant will be paid over £155,300 per annum). The migrant can only move to the new job if no suitable settled workers are available to fill the post.
Moving to a new company
If the job is for a new company then the migrant must always make a new application for further leave to remain in the UK, sponsored by the new employer. The role must be advertised (unless it appears on the Shortage Occupation List or the migrant will be paid over £155,300 per annum). The migrant can only move to the new job if no suitable settled workers are available to fill the post.
If the migrant is changing company due to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) there is a special procedure. Re-advertising may not be necessary.
When can the new job start?
The Tier 2 migrant can only start the new job when their immigration application has been approved. This means that if they are switching to a new company, the migrant will need to think carefully about when they will give in their notice for the previous role. Strategically, it is worth considering the option of applying by the priority or premium services, where processing times can be as short as one day.
As long as their permission to remain as a Tier 2 migrant has not expired, the migrant can keep working in their original job for their original sponsor until the start date of the new job as stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship.
What about settlement?
Changes of employment do not affect the five year route to settlement in the Tier 2 General category. Amongst other requirements, a Tier 2 General visa holder needs to have had leave to remain as a Tier 2 (General) migrant for five continuous years to settle in the UK. The five years does not have to have been with the same employer.
However, a Tier 2 General migrant can only stay in the UK for up to six years under that category. The migrant must either apply for settlement, switch into another immigration category or leave the UK at or before the end of the six years.
For advice or assistance with a change of employment application under Tier 2 General of the points-based system, contact our immigration barristers in London.