If you are a non-EEA skilled worker in the UK and are sponsored by an employer, you will know that your Tier 2 (General) visa comes with many restrictions and responsibilities. So many, in fact, that you may have found yourself thinking whether you can take up a short course or volunteer for your local charity without risking your immigration status.
The good news is that the Home Office allows Tier 2 (General) visa holders to pursue hobbies, interests and sports outside of working for the sponsor in the job recorded on their Certificate of Sponsorship.
You can volunteer:
You can undertake voluntary work in any sector provided that you are not paid for your work.
You can take up supplementary employment:
For the most career-driven amongst Tier 2 (General) visa holders, supplementary employment is also permitted. However, you must ensure the following:
- The work is either in the same profession and at the same professional level as the one you are sponsored for; or
- The role is on the Shortage Occupation List.
You must continue to work for your Tier 2 sponsor and supplement your employment outside your normal working hours. Furthermore, you can only dedicate up to 20 additional hours a week to your supplementary employer.
You could also have secondary employment (i.e. employment which does not meet the definition of supplementary employment):
You can also apply to undertake additional work not covered by supplementary or voluntary work, although the Home Office must approve this in advance. In summary, a further application for a Certificate of Sponsorship will need to be made so that you can vary your existing leave. The sponsor of this secondary employment must also meet all relevant Tier 2 criteria, however.
You can study:
Tier 2 (General) visa holders can study anywhere in the UK and there is no limit on the number of hours of study, or the level of the course, provided that it does not affect your job and duties as a worker.
You may be subject to the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) if you are planning studies in the fields of technologies, biological sciences, veterinary sciences, agriculture and related subjects, physical sciences, mathematical and computer sciences, engineering subjects or subjects allied to medicine.
You may be able to play or coach sports:
Although this one seems obvious, the UK immigration authorities’ approach to sporting activities is quite strict. Tier 2 (General) visa holders are only allowed to take part in sports activities as amateurs. The term is defined narrowly and permits participation or coaching for personal enjoyment only, and excludes any financial or material remuneration.
This definition could cause problems, irrespective of whether the person concerned is paid or not, for example:
- playing for professional or semi-professional clubs at junior levels, which may include under 17s and under 19s teams;
- coaching junior teams of professional or semi-professional clubs;
- engaging an agent to find opportunities for you to play for a club or coach.
We discussed this topic in our article Home Office Definition Of A ‘Professional Sportsperson’, Not What You May Think when the changes were introduced.
You may not be required to inform the Home Office of extra activities, but if you are unsure, or if you have any questions or queries in respect of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Solicitor in our Corporate team