- Eligibility requirements
- Supporting documents
- Tier 2 General Visa
- Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa
- Tier 2 ICT Visa
- Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa
- Certificate of Sponsorship
- Extending your visa
- Permitted activities
- Switching your visa
- Tier 2 Visa conditions
- English language requirements
- Shortage Occupation List (SOL)
- Resident Labour Market Test
- Tier 2 Visa costs
- Length of stay
- Permanent Residence
- Family members
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Tier 2 Visa?
The Tier 2 General Visa is a form of leave to remain aimed at overseas workers that intend to work in the UK. It is a long-term visa that enables UK-based employers to recruit skilled workers in fields such as healthcare, technology and banking.
Only employers that hold a Sponsor Licence are permitted to recruit overseas workers. In addition, they must first pass the Resident Labour Market Test. This involves offering the job to domestic skilled workers in order to establish that overseas workers are needed. The test does not apply to roles on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
There are different subcategories of Tier 2 Visa which pertain to different job roles. These are General, Sportsperson, Minister of Religion and Intra Company Transfer.
What are the Tier 2 Visa eligibility requirements?
In order for your Tier 2 General Visa application to be approved, there are a number of eligibility requirements that must first be satisfied.
You must be able to demonstrate to the Home Office that you have a job offer from a sponsored employer and will meet the salary threshold.
For the visa to be granted, you need to:
- Demonstrate that you are able to support yourself and your family without relying on public funds;
- Accrue at least 70 points based on your attributes;
- Be over the age of 16 on the date your application is submitted;
- Meet the minimum salary threshold stipulated for your role;
- Have a job offer from a UK sponsor;
- Possess a Certificate of Sponsorship from an organisation on the Tier 2 sponsored employers list;
- Demonstrate that you have the necessary level of English language proficiency;
- Have passed the ‘genuine vacancy’ test- this is used by the Home Office to determine whether the role you have been offered is appropriate for your skillset.
Applicants under the age of 18 may still be eligible. However, their parent or guardian will need to give consent.
What supporting documentation will I need to submit?
In addition to your actual application form, there are a number of supporting documents that also must be submitted to the Home Office. Ensuring that your documents are correct and well-organised will maximise your chances of a successful application.
You will need to submit the following:
- Your current passport, or other valid travel document;
- Tuberculosis test results (if from a listed country);
- Proof that your English language proficiency is of the required standard;
- Financial documents such as bank statements that prove you have enough funds to support your household;
- Proof that you have worked for your current employer outside of the UK (only relevant for Intra Company Transfer Visas);
- Evidence of your UK-based job offer;
- The reference number on your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)- to be inputted into your application form.
If any of your documents are in a language other than English or Welsh, you will need to provide a certified translation. All of the documents you provide must be original copies rather than photocopies. If this is not possible, you will have to explain why. The Home Office will show leniency if you have genuine reasons why original copies could not be obtained. You will be able to upload your documents electronically.
What is the Tier 2 General Visa?
The Tier 2 General Visa is aimed at overseas skilled workers who have received a job offer from a UK sponsor. It is essential that the job has been offered by an accredited employer who can sponsor their application and issue them with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
In order to be eligible, the applicant must have been offered a job that meets the salary threshold. As it stands, the Tier 2 salary threshold is £30,000 per year or the most appropriate salary for your role, whichever is higher.
There are circumstances under which the salary you are paid can be lower than £30,000, for example if your job is in the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). At present, the number of sponsorship certificates that can be issued in a year is capped at 20,700.
What is the Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa?
To apply for the Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa, you must be one of the following:
- An elite sportsperson or qualified coach;
- An athlete with internationally recognised talent;
- Endorsed by your sport’s governing body;
- A person whose performance in the UK will enhance your sport in the UK
If you are a skilled applicant in this category, you will still be required to meet standard Tier 2 requirements.
For example, you will need to demonstrate your ability to provide for your household and show that you have the required English language ability. You must also be over the age of 16 on the date your application is submitted.
Can I apply for a Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer Visa?
The Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer Visa is designed for employees of multinational companies who wish to transfer to the UK branch of their organisation. There are two subcategories within this type of Tier 2 Visa.
This subcategory is aimed at overseas employers wanting to transfer graduate trainees to the UK branch of their organisation. The visa can only be granted if the graduate is coming to the UK to take part in a training programme that leads to a more specialist role within the same company. To be eligible, applicants must be recent graduates with at least three months experience in their current role. The salary threshold is £23,000 per year.
This type of ICT Visa can only be applied for by skilled workers who have been working for their current organisation for at least 12 months. There are exceptions to this, for example if the applicant will be paid £73,900 or more and will spend at least 12 months in the UK.
What is the Tier 2 Ministry of Religion Visa?
This visa type can be applied for by persons who have been offered a role within the UK faith community.
You are also able to apply if you intend to travel to the UK as a missionary worker or member of a religious sect.
Applicants for this type of Tier 2 Visa are not permitted to own more than 10% of their sponsor’s share. In addition, you may be prohibited from getting a second job.
To be eligible, you must:
- Have at least £945 in your bank account for the 90 days preceding your application;
- Demonstrate your English language proficiency by passing an approved test or possessing a higher education qualification that was taught or researched in English.
If you already hold a Tier 1, Tier 4 or a different type of Tier 2 Visa, you may be permitted to switch onto the Ministry of Religion Visa.
What do I need to know about the Certificate of Sponsorship?
Your prospective employer will need to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship on your behalf so that you can work in the UK.
The CoS is digital information rather than a paper document. It takes the form of a unique reference number, and provides information about your job and personal details.
For a CoS to be granted, you must first have an official job offer from a sponsored employer. Once you have received your CoS, you can commence your Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa application- your reference number must appear on your application form. You must submit your application within three months of your CoS being issued.
Can you apply for a Tier 2 Visa extension?
You will be able to extend your Tier 2 General Visa providing that you apply for the extension before your current Tier 2 Visa expires.
Eligibility hinges on:
- Having the same (or similar job) to that which your CoS was issued for;
- Working for your sponsor and honouring your CoS;
- Earning an appropriate salary for your role;
- Being in the UK when you submit your application.
Once your application has been submitted, you ought to receive a decision from the Home Office within eight weeks. You may need to record your biometric information once again- this can be done at a UKVCAS centre.
What am I able to do on a Tier 2 Visa?
Holders of Tier 2 Visas are permitted to do the following:
- Take up voluntary work;
- Bring your dependents to the UK;
- Travel abroad and return to the UK freely;
- Do a second job for a maximum of 20 hours per week;
- Study- providing that you meet the requirements.
Studying on a Tier 2 Visa
Tier 2 Visa holders are permitted to study whilst in the UK.
However, you must ensure that it doesn’t interfere with your job responsibilities.
Before registering for a course, you must obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate.
Can you switch from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 Visa?
It is possible for Tier 4 Student Visa holders to switch onto a Tier 2 Visa. To be eligible to switch, you must be one of the following (or will be within three months of applying to switch):
- The holder of a UK-recognised Bachelor’s or Master’s degree;
- Studying a course that leads to a UK Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE);
- Studying a course that leads to a UK Professional Graduate Diploma of Education (PGDE);
- At least 12 months into a UK PhD (or equivalent level) course.
Applicants will need to submit one of the following in support of their case:
- Academic transcript;
- Degree certificate;
- An academic reference printed on the institution’s official paper.
What are the Tier 2 Visa conditions?
If you hold a Tier 2 General Visa, you can remain in the UK until either your leave or employment contract expires, whichever is shorter.
However, the following conditions must be adhered to:
- You must only work for the organisation that sponsor your visa (excludes additional employment or voluntary work);
- You must not claim public funds;
- You must register with the police if your leave to remain requires you to.
Failing to abide by these conditions may result in the termination of your visa. It may also affect your ability to apply for UK leave to remain again in the future.
What do I need to know about the English language requirement?
When applying for this visa, you may be required to demonstrate your English language ability. You can do this by:
- Being a citizen of an English-speaking country;
- Passing an accredited English language exam with minimum CEFR level of B1- must be in both speaking and listening;
- Showing that you possess an academic qualification that was taught or researched in English. It must be equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree and recognised by UK NARIC to be valid;
- Having previously been granted UK leave under a Tier 1 or Tier 4 Visa.
What is the Shortage Occupations List (SOL)?
Skilled roles in the UK need to be advertised for an initial 28 days so that domestic workers have enough time to apply.
However, if a particular role is experiencing a shortage of appropriate workers, it will be in high demand and will need to be filled as quickly as possible.
Roles experiencing these shortages are placed on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). If a UK sponsor hires an overseas skilled worker for one of these roles, they will not need to pass the Resident Labour Market Test.
What is the Resident Labour Market Test?
Before a sponsored employer can recruit overseas workers, they must have advertised the job role for a minimum of 28 days in at least two different places. This provides domestic skilled workers with enough time to apply for the job.
To pass the Resident Labour Market Test, employers must demonstrate to the UKVI that there are no UK permanent residents with the necessary skill sets (either British nationals or migrants with ILR) to fill the role appropriately.
The only roles that are exempt from the test are those on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), and those being filled by Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer employees.
How much does a Tier 2 Visa cost?
The current Tier 2 Visa fees are as follows:
- General Skilled Worker Visa:
Up to three years: £610
More than three years: £1,220
- Intra Company Transfer Visa:
Long-term staff: from £610 to £1,220
Graduate trainees: £482
- Sportsperson Visa: £610
- Minister of Religion Visa: £610
You will also need to pay £19.20 to record your biometric information at your nearest UKVCAS centre. In addition, you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your application.
How long will I be able to stay in the UK?
The amount of time you will be able to spend in the UK depends on the type of Tier 2 Visa being applied for.
- Tier 2 General visa: a maximum of 5 years and 14 days
- Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer Visa:
Graduate trainee: 12 months
Long-term staff: between 5 and 9 years
- Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa: a maximum of three years
- Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa: a maximum of three years and one month
What is the expected timeframe for a Tier 2 Visa application?
You can apply for a Tier 2 General Visa up to three months before the day you are scheduled to start work in the UK (or the date that appears on your CoS).
If your application is submitted from outside the UK, you ought to receive a decision within three weeks.
Can a Tier 2 Visa lead to UK Permanent Residence?
If you successfully apply for a Tier 2 Visa extension, you will be granted an additional three years of leave to remain in the UK. Once you have been continuously and lawfully resident in the UK for five years, you will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
You will be able to commence your ILR application prior to the expiration of your current visa. However, the following requirements must be satisfied:
- You must have been continuously and lawfully resident in the UK for at least five years;
- You must have the required level of English language proficiency;
- You must be in continued employment with an approved Tier 2 sponsor;
- You must have demonstrated the ‘good character’ requirement (meaning you have no unspent criminal convictions/immigration offences);
- You must be earning a minimum of £35,800 per year.
Once you have held ILR for 12 months, you will be permitted to apply for British citizenship.
Will I be able to bring my family members to the UK?
You will be able to bring your dependents (your spouse and your children under the age of 18) to the UK with you.
For your application to be approved, each dependent must have at least £630 available to them.
This is in addition to the £945 you require as the main applicant.
Your dependents must also have their biometric information recorded as part of their application.
Children over the age of 18 are not able to submit their application online.
They can only form part of your household if they are already living in the UK and are registered as your dependants.
These rules also apply to children who were born during your time in the UK on a Tier 2 Visa. When applying on their behalf, you will need to provide their UK birth certificate.
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The Tier 2 Visa forms part of the points-based immigration system. You will need to score a minimum of 70 points for your application to be granted. Points are awarded based on the following eligibility attributes:
- 50 points for possessing a Certificate of Sponsorship from an approved UK sponsor;
- 10 points for possessing the requisite English language skills;
- 10 points for having the necessary funds available to you on the date of your application.
If you are applying for the long-term staff subcategory of the Intra Company Transfer Visa, you will receive 30 points for having worked for your existing employer for at least 12 months.
Graduate trainees will receive the same for having spent at least three months with their current employer. The time spent in the UK on a Tier 2 Visa will not contribute towards the experience needed to obtain a CoS.
It is important to note that accruing 70 points will not automatically result in your visa being granted. Your application will be evaluated based on other factors, such as whether or not you pass the ‘genuine vacancy’ test.
You will be permitted to take a second job during your time in the UK on a Tier 2 General Visa as long as it does not interfere with your main job’s requirements.
Further to this, you are only permitted to work an additional 20 hours each week. The job must be either in the same field as your main profession or a role that is listed on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). You will be permitted to take up voluntary work.
If you wish to take up a role in a separate field, you will need to apply for a separate Tier 2 Visa and get a second Certificate of Sponsorship from the employer. You will not be permitted to extend your visa for your second job.
Because the Tier 2 Visa forms part of the points-based immigration system, you will be awarded points based on certain aspects of your application.
One of these aspects is the salary you will be paid in the UK- as it stands, the minimum salary threshold for skilled workers is £30,000 per year. However, new entrants and workers filling roles on the Shortage Occupation List will need to meet a lower salary requirement in order to score the necessary 20 points.
The salary you will be paid must be stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship. If the stated salary is in a currency other than pounds sterling, the figure must be adjusted in light of the exchange rate.
The cooling off period is imposed upon those who switch from a Tier 2 Visa to another form of UK leave to remain. It is also imposed on those who leave the UK once their Tier 2 Visa expires.
The cooling off period lasts for 12 months. During this time, a person is unable to commence a new visa application/return to the UK.
However, certain types of applicants are exempt. These are:
- Those applying for an extension of their work visa;
- Those making alterations to their job application;
- Those whose CoS lasted for three months or less;
- Those whose UK salary will be £120,000 or more.
Whilst in the UK, Minister of Religion Visa holders are permitted to engage in the following activities:
- Participate in voluntary work;
- Take a second job- providing it is for less than 20 hours per week;
- Study (providing it does not interfere with your main job);
- Travel outside of the UK and return;
- Bring your dependents to the UK with you;
- Work for your UK sponsor in the specified role;
- Undertake missionary work or work as a member of a religious order.
Those whose visa application is time-sensitive are able to pay for an express service in order to receive a faster decision. At present, the Home Office’s priority service costs £500. Those who opt for this service ought to receive a decision within five working days.
The Home Office also offers a super-priority service at a cost of £800. This should provide you with a decision within one working day.
There are certain situations in which a Tier 2 Skilled Worker holder can do freelance work whilst in the UK.
A freelance role can only be taken if it is on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and is at the same CoS level as your main role.
Additionally, the freelance role must sit within the supplementary work category and adhere to the Tier 2 Visa regulations. These regulations state that you can only work an additional 20 hours per week, and that any additional role must not interfere with your main job.
If your time in sponsored employment comes to an end, you will not be able to remain in the UK as a self-employed person. You may however be able to apply for a different form of leave to remain.
There is a cap on the number of sponsorship certificates that can be issued to Tier 2 Skilled Worker applicants in an annual period. Those switching from a Tier 4 Dependent Visa to a work permit are also subject to the cap.
Certain types of applicants are exempt from the cap. These are:
- Applicants who are sponsored for a job at PhD level;
- Doctors and nurses that have a UK job offer from a recognised sponsor;
- Applicants whose salary meets or exceeds £159,600 per year;
- Applicants who apply from within the UK (dependants are exempt);
- Roles that have an inward investment provision.
At the Immigration Advice Service, we understand how important it is to fulfil your career goals and make your aspirations a reality. Our team of talented Birmingham immigration lawyers have a wealth of experience in assisting with Tier 2 General Visa applications. We go the extra mile to ensure that you receive your desired outcome.
The services we provide include:
- A thorough document check to ensure that you have all of your supporting evidence in place;
- Maintaining a dialogue with the Home Office throughout the application process;
- Completing your application form to the highest possible standard;
- Writing a Letter of Representation that emphasises the strengths of your application to the Home Office drawing attention to relevant immigration laws in support of your case;
- Ensuring that your Certificate of Sponsorship is correctly assigned;
- Ensuring the Resident Labour Market Test is taken correctly.