Sometimes, unfortunately, a job will end before the period of Skilled Worker (formerly Tier 2 visas) sponsorship, possibly through dismissal or redundancy. If you are a Skilled Worker visa holder, your right to stay in the UK will be linked to this work so it is important to get advice and make plans quickly.
What Skilled Worker sponsors must do
A sponsor of a Skilled Worker worker has a duty to report to the Home Office within 10 days of a worker’s employment ending. They will need to let the Home Office know the worker’s last known address.
Cancelling the Skilled Worker visa
Once the Home Office have been notified of the employment ending, they will decide whether to cancel the visa. In many cases this cancellation will not take place immediately, visa holders will often be allowed some time before the permission to remain in the UK ends.
Home Office guidance tells caseworkers to check if another visa has been granted or a new application has been made. In these cases, and where remaining leave is less than 60 days, they will usually take no action. This means that the visa will continue until the original end date. If a new application is refused then the caseworker may consider cancelling the permission at that time.
If there are 60 days or more remaining on the current visa, the Home Office would usually shorten the remaining validity of the visa to 60 days. This time only starts running once you are notified of the decision to cancel the visa and often it can take several weeks after the employer has notified the Home Office before this letter is sent.
The Home Office can use discretion to allow a longer validity, for example if there are children who would be affected or if there are medical or other reasons to do so. In this case, it is important to let the Home Office know and provide evidence.
In some situations, for example if the worker contributed to the sponsor’s licence being suspended or is being dismissed for very serious misconduct, the Home Office may cancel the visa immediately so that there is no time remaining.
Moving to a new job
During the remaining visa validity, you are permitted to look for a new employer in the UK who may be prepared to sponsor you. The employer would need to hold a sponsor licence but might be prepared to apply for one to employ you.
It is no longer necessary for the new employer to advertise the job, but they need to be able to show evidence of how you were recruited and that this is a genuine vacancy.
If the new employer can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship and you can make a visa application before your current leave expires, you will be allowed to stay in the UK until a decision is made. However, you won’t be able to start work for the new employer until the visa applications is approved.
Leaving the UK
If a new visa application cannot be made before the expiry of your permission, you would need to leave the UK to avoid becoming an overstayer. Overstaying a visa without good reason is a criminal offence.
Having overstayed for any amount of time will usually result in a new application from within the UK being refused. There is an exception when there are good reasons beyond your or your representative’s control and when an application is made within 14 days. It would not be advisable to make a late application except in exceptional circumstances.
Once outside the UK, it would be possible to make a new visa application as soon as an employer can assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to you. There is no longer a requirement to remain outside the UK for 12 months (previously known as the “cooling off period”).
If the new application can be made within 14 days of the current permission ending then there will not be a break in continuous residence. This means the time before leaving the UK can be counted towards the five year residence period required for applying for indefinite leave to remain. If the application was made later then your five year period would restart, beginning when your new visa is granted.
Consider getting employment law advice
If a job ends this can bring real difficulties, so it is worth considering if anything can be done to resolve the situation without the employment ending. Sometimes employers are unaware of the procedures they should go through in redundancy or dismissal situations and may be persuaded to carry out a formal review process rather than end the employment immediately.
Taking advice from an employment lawyer could help you gain an understanding of your employment rights and whether there would be a chance to negotiate a different outcome.
How we can help
We understand this is a difficult situation to be in and we can help you make decisions about your next steps. Care should be taken with any new visa application as a refusal at that stage could compromise your future status.