Switching employment on a Tier 2 Visa

(Partner content) Several South Africans work in the UK via the Tier 2 (General) migration route.


The Tier 2 migration route is linked to a UK employer. Subsequently Breytenbachs receive a number of queries from readers who want to switch to other employers and wonder how this will affect them.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

A Tier 2 (General) migrant will usually be able to qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after five years in the UK. As soon as a migrant has the status of ILR, he/she will be able to work in the UK without restriction. They will thus be able to switch employment without any administrative hassle, as their immigration status as ILR holder is not dependent on the Tier 2 employer. 

Switching to another Tier 2 employer before obtaining ILR

Tier 2 (General) migrants can switch employers while in the UK and still obtain ILR after completing five years in the UK. They will then have obtained this status by using a combination of both the initial employment and the new employment.

For a new company to take over the Tier 2 sponsorship, they will need to ensure that they have followed the correct processes before the migrant commences work with them.

If the position is not exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), then that process would need to be followed in the first instance. The company will also need to apply for a Tier 2 (General) Sponsor Licence if they do not already hold one. Once the Licence is in place, the company would need to obtain an unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship. Once this is issued, they need to assign the certificate to the migrant.

The migrant would then be able to apply from within the UK for a new Tier 2 visa, giving them permission to start working with the new Tier 2 employer. If all of the processes are followed correctly and the migrant has otherwise been complying with the requirements attached to their Tier 2 visa status, then they should still be able to qualify for ILR when they have completed five years in the UK on their combined Tier 2 visas.

Breytenbachs has a dedicated Tier 2 department, who can assist both the employee and employer with the Tier 2 migration process. For more information or assistance with your Tier 2 matter, please send an email to or visit the Breytenbachs website at

Please note that the information in this article does not constitute professional advice. It is provided for general information purposes, without giving any warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied.