Tier 2 Visa Holders- Can you change your employer?

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As a migrant sponsored under Tier 2 general category, there are a few options available to you to advance your career. You don’t have to be stuck with your employer/sponsor or in the same role.

You are allowed to change jobs to a different employer or continue with the same employer but changing or carrying out a different role to that which you were initially sponsored. 

Of course, for each of the career advancing methods described above, there are steps your employer must take to ensure they are compliant so as not to jeopardize their sponsor licence or your continuous leave in the UK for that matter.

Where a Tier 2 migrant changes his employer or job, a new visa application must be made which must be supported by a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your new sponsor.

This flexibility 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.

 If you are changing your job you must make a new Tier 2 (General) visa application if:

  • you want to change your job and your new job is with a different employer
  • your job changes to a different standard occupation classification (SOC) code, and you’re not in a graduate training programme
  • you leave a job that’s on the shortage occupation list for a job that is not on the list

What is the procedure?

You will need to secure another role with your current or a different sponsor, after which they issue a certificate of sponsorship (CoS), which you then use to apply for your new visa or grant of leave.

You must ensure that your new employer is on the UK Sponsor Licence Register and is, therefore, able to legally hire migrant workers. It is also worth noting that any new job you apply for will most likely be subject to the Resident Labour Market Test.

If it’s the same employer but a new job with the same SOC code then you do not need to make a new application unless you are changing from a job which is listed in the shortage occupation list in Appendix K of the Immigration Rules, to one that is not.

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.

If you will still be employed by the same employer but the new job is in a different SOC code, then you must make a new application. However, if you are employed in a graduate training program then you don’t need to make a new application.

Your employer must first carry out Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) before they assign you a COS if your job is not on the shortage occupation list.

After your employer assigns a CoS to you, a new application. For your visa can then be made. Your application must be approved before you can start the new job. 

This applies in all cases whether the new job is with the same sponsor or a new sponsor. You can continue working in your original job, for your original sponsor, provided your last grant of leave has not expired, until the start date of the new job, as stated on the new CoS.

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