Blogs > Visas

Skilled Worker Visa and changes to the cooling off period

  • January 26, 2022

What was the Cooling Off Period?

When you successfully obtain an NHS post, you will need to apply for a Skilled worker visa to enter the UK and take up your employment. During your employment, you will be free to leave the UK and visit your home country, adhering to your annual leave AND providing your Skilled worker is still valid. However, previously if your employment contract was terminated early or your visa ran out and you left the UK, a 12-month cooling off period could have been applied.

What changes have been made?

Individuals who previously held a Tier 2 visa now called a Health and Care Skilled Worker Visa will no longer be subject to the 12-month cooling off period if relocating back to the UK under the UK's new points-based immigration system.

The Tier 2 cooling off period previously barred Tier 2 visa holders from returning to the UK for a period of 12 months after their visa expired, or moving back to a Tier 2 visa from another UK leave category within 12 months (unless they earned more than £159,600). It applied to people who were either abroad and had their last grant of Tier 2 leave expire or finish; or who were in the UK and had an earlier period of Tier 2 leave, but then transferred to a different immigration category and then tried to apply under Tier 2 again.

The Tier 2 cooling off period has been eliminated, allowing Tier 2 (General) and Skilled Worker visa holders to apply for a UK visa without having to wait. Existing Tier 2 General visa holders will no longer be subject to these restrictions as a result of this adjustment.

The Tier 2 cooling off period had been troublesome for both sponsors and workers, and the revised rules provide skilled workers more flexibility in returning to the UK while also improving companies' foreign recruitment possibilities.

For how long can I leave the UK at all whilst I am employed by the NHS?

You can leave the NHS to visit your home country or go on holiday as you please as long as you are still employed by your NHS hospital. However, you should not leave the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period as this will impact your indefinite leave to remain application.

It is important to note that BDI Resourcing are not immigration law specialists, if you need advice on your Skilled worker visa please do contact an immigration lawyer.

Relocation to the UK

If you are a senior international doctor who is looking to secure an NHS post, email your CV to [email protected] and we can support you on your journey to the UK.

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London's Leading UK Immigration & Visa Lawyers | LEXVISA Solicitors. (2019). Understanding the Tier 2 Cooling Off period? | LEXVISA Solicitors. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Aug. 2019].

Johnstone, J. (2019). When Does The Tier 2 Cooling Off Period Apply? - DavidsonMorris - Immigration Solicitors. [online] DavidsonMorris - Immigration Solicitors. Available at: [Accessed 15 Aug. 2019].


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