Sometimes, unfortunately, a job will end before the period of Tier 2 sponsorship, possibly through dismissal or redundancy. If you are a Tier 2 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 Tier 2 Sponsors must do
A sponsor of a Tier 2 worker has a duty to report to the Home Office within 10 days of a worker’s contract ending. They will need to let the Home Office know the worker’s last known address.
Curtailing (shortening) the Tier 2 visa
Once the Home Office have been notified of the employment ending they will decide whether to curtail the visa. 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.
Otherwise the Home Office will usually curtail (shorten) the remaining validity of the visa to 60 days. This time only starts running once the worker is notified of the decision to curtail the visa and often it can take several weeks 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 cases, for example if the Home Office believe the worker contributed to the sponsor’s licence being suspended they may curtail the visa immediately.
Moving to a new job
During the remaining visa validity you are permitted to look for a new employer in the UK who must have a sponsor licence. The new employer will usually need to advertise the job to meet the Resident Labour Market Test requirements so the process must be started as soon as possible.
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 and the Tier 2 cooling off period
If a new visa application cannot be made in time the visa applicant will have to leave the UK to avoid becoming an overstayer. There is no longer a 28-day grace period for further leave applications so any overstaying would normally result in a visa refusal. 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 is only possible to be awarded a further Tier 2 visa if twelve months or more has passed since leaving. This is known as the “cooling off period”. It does not apply if the original Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship was for three months or less. Evidence of leaving the UK, including boarding card stubs and airline tickets should be kept to show when this period started.
Sometimes it may be possible to switch from a Tier 2 visa into another category in the UK or by making an application from overseas as the cooling off period only applies to Tier 2.
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 scope 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.