Switching or Extending a visa

When recruiting you may receive applications from people who are already in the UK on different types of visas. In certain circumstances it may be possible for them to change their visa in order to work for you.

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Changing from one visa category to another while in the UK is known as 'switching'. There are complicated rules around who is permitted to move from one category to another.

Tier 2 (General)/ Skilled Worker route

If a person is on a Tier 2 (General)/ Skilled Worker visa and wishes to change employers, they must obtain a new Certificate of Sponsorship from their new employer. The new employer must go through the same steps for employing any overseas (migrant) worker. The process of switching from one employer to another under the Skilled Worker route in the UK can take longer than if the individual was overseas, so it is important to factor in additional timing when going through this process.

Visitor visas

If a person is here on a visitor visa, they cannot work for you or switch to any other category while in the UK. The person must return to their country of origin and apply for a new work visa from there.

Other visas

If a person is on another type of visa, as an employer you should check the relevant Home Office policy guidance document for the visa they wish to switch to, to confirm it is possible from their current category. It is not usually possible to switch in to another visa category from inside the UK if someone currently has one of the following vis types:

  • on a visit visa
  • on a short-term student visa
  • on a Parent of a Child Student visa
  • on a seasonal worker visa
  • on a domestic worker in a private household visa; or
  • have been given permission to stay in the UK outside of the Immigration Rules.

Certain visas also do not permit someone to switch in to it from inside the UK, regardless of what type of visa that they have (for example the Ancestry Visa). Therefore it is always important to check this before an application is made.

Extending visas

Most (but not all) visas can be extended after their initial period of grant. Individuals should check the process of extending for their particular visa type and ensure they make the relevant application before the expiry of their current leave.

Tier 2 (General)/Skilled Worker Route

There is no limit to the amount of time you can spend in the UK under the Skilled Worker Route (previously known as Tier 2 (General).

However for some routes, such as Temporary Worker Global Business Mobility Route, an extension cannot be granted beyond a certain limit.

The requirements for an extension are similar to those for initial entry.

It may be possible to switch into alternative visa categories which might lead to permanent residence from the Global Business Mobility Route.