Contractors' Questions: Can I get IT work if already on a Tier 2 visa?

Contractor’s Question: I am presently working in the UK as a third-party vendor in the IT field. I have entered the country on a Tier 2 ICT Short Term visa. As I’ve probably got the time to do it, and as I’ve always wanted to go contracting, is it possible for me to get my own contract IT work here in the UK?

Expert’s Answer: In short, the answer is ‘no.’ A Tier 2 ICT Short Term Staff (STS) migrant cannot carry out any additional contract work while sponsored under his/her Tier 2 visa in the UK.

Tier 2 ICT Short Term Staff migrants are not allowed to carry out any work in the UK, except (1) working for their current employer who has assigned their Certificate of Sponsorship (COS); and (2) voluntary work; and (3) supplementary employment.

The term “any work”, encompasses “contract work”.

It is therefore necessary to look at the three exceptions and determine whether “contract work” is covered under one of these. I will take each in turn:

  1. Obtaining a contract job in the UK does not fall under the remit of “working for your current employer” and is therefore not permitted under the exceptions;
  1. Obtaining a contract job in the UK does not amount to “voluntary work” and is again not permitted under the exceptions.
  1. Supplementary employment refers to employment, so it is also not relevant to “contract work”. Furthermore, an individual cannot be sponsored by two employers for two separate roles in the UK, so she or he cannot carry out employment for another company while already being sponsored by their existing company. This category thus covers individuals who have already been granted a Tier 2 visa but, for example, want to switch jobs and apply for further leave to remain in the UK under the Tier 2 General visa route with another employer/sponsor.

In conclusion, unfortunately you cannot carry out any additional contract work while sponsored under your Tier 2 ICT STS visa. If you wanted to switch employers and work for the company who want to contract you, then they would need a UK sponsor licence and would need to advertise the role. You would then need to apply for a Tier 2 General visa from inside the UK, leave your current employer and work for the new employer.  

The expert was Amy Sarraff, a solicitor who specialises in immigration law at Redfern Legal LLP.

Thursday 6th Nov 2014
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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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