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Tier 2 Visa

Tier 2 Visa Application

International skilled workers, sportspersons and ministers of religion who received a job offer in the UK, may be eligible for a Tier 2 Visa.

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Tier 2 Visa for Skilled Workers

The Tier 2 Visa is designed for migrants who wish to work in the UK. This is a long-term permit that allows UK-based employers to fill skilled job vacancies, such as occupations in IT, healthcare and accountancy.

Before hiring migrant workers, businesses must hold a valid Sponsor Licence. Besides, companies need to advertise the job to look for skilled domestic employees. This is known as the Resident Labour Market Test, and it does not apply to roles on the Shortage Occupation List, which includes highly skilled positions that must be filled immediately.

Based on the nature of each position, there are different Tier 2 categories, which are: General, Sportsperson, Minister of Religion, and Intra-Company Transfer.

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Tier 2 Visa eligibility requirements

Skilled workers interested in applying for a Tier 2 Visa must:

  • Have a job offer from a UK-based firm;
  • Hold a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by a company in the Tier 2 Sponsor List;
  • Score at least 70 points for attributes;
  • Earning an appropriate salary for their job;
  • Meet specific English language requirements;
  • Be over the age of 16 on the date of their application;
  • Pass the “genuine vacancy” test, meaning that the UKVI will verify if you are being sponsored to undertake a genuine role that is appropriate for your skills.
  • Demonstrate to be able to support themselves and their family.

Applicants under the age of 18 may still be eligible for this visa, provided that their parents or legal guardian give their consent.

Tier 2 Visa required documents

Along with your visa application forms, you must provide the following bundle of reports about your case:

  • Proof of the job offer that you have received from a UK employer;
  • The reference number of your certificate of sponsorship, to be reported on your forms;
  • An official statement from your bank or building society showing you have enough personal savings to support your household;
  • A current passport, or any other valid travel document;
  • Evidence of your knowledge of English (if required);
  • Proof that you have worked for your employer outside the UK (only for Intra-Company Transfers);
  • Your tuberculosis test results (for nationals of specific countries).

If your documents are not in English or Welsh, you will need to provide a certified and verifiable translation.

Tier 2 General Visa

The Tier 2 General Visa is available for international skilled workers who have been offered a job in the UK. Before they submit their request, applicants need to find an accredited UK-based employer to sponsor their application and provide them with a Certificate of Sponsorship (Cos).

To be eligible, you must earn an adequate salary, which needs to be at least £30,000 per year or the most appropriate rate for your role, whichever is higher. Certain occupations, such as school teachers and nurses, are exempt from this requirement.

An annual limit of 20,700 certificates of sponsorship applies to Tier 2 General Visa.

Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa

You can apply for a Sportsperson Visa if you:

  • Are an elite sportsperson or qualified coach;
  • An athlete whose talent is recognised internationally;
  • Are submitting an application endorsed by your sport’s governing body;
  • Your performance in the UK will enhance your sport in the UK.

Skilled applicants under this category will need to prove their knowledge of English and their ability to support themselves financially.

Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer Visa

A Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer Visa is for those who are employed by a multinational company and are being transferred to a UK branch of their firm.  There are two subcategories of this permit.

Long-term staff

In this case, a CoS is issued to staff members who have been working for the same company for more than 12 months. Exceptions may apply if the applicant has a salary of £73,900 or more and needs to spend at least one year in the UK. The minimum salary required for this role is £41,500.

Graduate Trainee

This visa is for foreign companies that need to transfer graduate trainees to one of their branches in the UK. Employees must be coming to this country as part of a training programme with progression towards a specialist role within the same organisation. Eligible applicants need to be recent graduates with at least three months’ experience with their firm. The minimum salary for this role is £23,000.

Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa

You can apply for a Minister of Religion Visa if you have been offered a job within a faith community in the UK.

You can also submit your visa application if you wish to enter the UK as a missionary worker or member of a religious order.

Immigrants under this visa can not own more than 10% of their sponsor’s share. Besides, they may not be allowed to do a second job.

Skilled minister of religion applicants must:

  • Have £945 available in their bank account for 90 days before their application;
  • Prove their knowledge of English by either passing an approved language test or provide an academic qualification that was taught or researched in English.

International workers who are already in the UK on Tier 1, Tier 4 or a different Tier 2 category may be eligible to switch their status into a Minister of Religion permit.

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a reference number which holds information about your job in the UK and your personal details. In other words, this is not a certificate or a paper document.

To receive your CoS and apply for a work visa, you must first have received a valid job offer from a licensed firm located and operating in the UK. Your sponsor can either be your employer, deanery, or LETB (Local Education and Training Board).

You must write your reference number to your Tier 2 application forms. Once your CoS has been issued, you will have a three-month time limit to submit your application.

Can I extend my Tier 2 Visa?

Your Tier 2 renewal application will be valid only if you submit your forms before your current permit expires. To be eligible, you must:

  • Have the same or a similar job to the one you received your CoS for;
  • Be working for your sponsor and maintain your CoS;
  • Earn an “appropriate salary”, depending on your role;
  • Are in the UK at the time of your application.

Once you submit your renewal request, it may take up to 8 weeks before you receive your response from the Home Office. You may also need to have your biometrics collected once again at your local UKVCAS centre.

What am I allowed to do under a Tier 2 work visa?

Tier 2 permit holders can:

  • Do a second job for up to 20 hours per week;
  • Do voluntary work;
  • Study, as long as they meet specific requirements
  • Travel abroad and return to the UK freely;
  • Bring your dependants with you.

Can a Tier 2 Visa holder study in the UK?

If you hold a work visa, you are allowed to study in the UK, provided that these activities don’t interfere with your job responsibilities with your main employer.

However, before you register for a course of study, you must obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate.

Switching from Tier 4 into a Tier 2 Sponsorship List

International pupils who are already in the UK on a Tier 4 Student Visa can apply to change their status, provided that they hold or are going to complete within 3 months from the date of their application one of the following:

  • A UK recognised bachelor’s or master’s degree;
  • A course leading to a UK Post Graduate Certification in Education (PGCE);
  • A course leading to a UK Professional Graduate Diploma of Education (PGDE);
  • A minimum period of 12 months of study in the UK towards a PhD or equivalent level.

To support their case, applicants must provide one of the following:

  • Degree certificate;
  • Academic transcript;
  • Academic reference printed on the education provider’s official paper.

What are the Tier 2 conditions of leave to remain?

Tier 2 Visa holders can remain in the UK until their authorised visa expires or the end of their employment contract, whichever is shorter. However, during their stay, they must:

  • Be working only for the company that sponsored their application (except supplementary employment or voluntary work);
  • Not claim public funds;
  • Register with the police, if required by their immigration status.

How do I meet the English language requirement?

Applicants may be required to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language. This can be done by:

  • Being a national of a major English-speaking country;
  • Pass an approved English language test with at least CEFR level A1 in both speaking and listening;
  • Showing proof of an academic qualification that was taught or researched in English. To be valid, it must be recognised by UK NARIC, and be equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree;
  • Have previously been granted leave to stay in the UK under a Tier 1 Visa or a Student Visa.

What is the Shortage Occupations List?

As a general rule, UK skilled jobs need to firstly be advertised for 28 days, to enable domestic workers to submit their application. However, there are specific and highly specialised occupations that are currently going through the shortage of appropriate workers. These roles are usually in high demand in the UK and need to be filled immediately.

Sponsors hiring migrants covering any of the roles in the shortage occupation list will not be required to undertake the Resident Labour Market Test.

What is the Resident Labour Market Test?

Before a UK sponsor can hire overseas immigrants, the role needs to be advertised for at least 28 days in a minimum of two different places. This will allow domestic workers to have time to apply for the job.

Under the Resident Labour Market Test, employers need to prove UKVI that there are no settle workers (either British citizens or immigrants under ILR) who have the right skills to fill the position.

The test does not apply for all positions on the Shortage Occupation List, and for employees applying for a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer.

What are the Tier 2 fees?

  • General for skilled workers:

Up to 3 years: £610

More than 3 years: £1,220

  • Intra-company transfer visa:

Graduate trainee: £482

Long term staff: from £610 to £1,220

  • Sportsperson Visa: £610
  • Minister of Religion Visa: £610

An additional biometric fee of £19.20 applies. Applicants will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of their application.

How long can I stay in the UK on a work visa?

  • General for skilled workers: up to 5 years and 14 days
  • Intra-company transfer Visa:

Graduate trainee: 12 months

Long term staff: from 5 to up to 9 years

  • Sportsperson: up to 3 years
  • Minister of Religion Visa: up to 3 years and one month

How long does the Tier 2 application process take?

You can apply for a Tier 2 visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK, or the date registered on your CoS.

You should get a decision from the Home Office within 3 weeks for applications submitted from outside the UK.

Can I settle in the UK on a Tier 2 Visa?

You can extend your Tier 2 Visa for a period of up to six years, provided that you meet specific requirements. Nevertheless, after five years of lawful residence, you may be eligible to seek settlement status in the UK on Indefinite Leave to Remain.

You can apply for ILR before your current work visa expires. However, you must first comply with certain criteria, such as:

  • Having spent at least five years in the UK under a valid and lawful immigration status;
  • Prove your knowledge of the English language;
  • Being of “good character” (meaning you cannot have any unspent conviction);
  • Meeting a minimum earnings threshold of £35,800.
  • Being still legally employed by a registered Tier 2 sponsor.

After 12 months as a UK settled person, you will eventually be able to register for British citizenship.

Our London immigration lawyers can offer full assistance with settlement applications. Call us now on 020 4502 8582 for more information.

Can I enter the UK with my family?

Your dependents (that is your partner and your children under 18) can join you in the UK.

Each of your family members should have at least £630 available to them, in addition to the £945 that you must already hold to support your application.

Your relatives must apply online and have their fingerprints and photograph taken as a part of their application.

Children over the age of 18 cannot submit their forms online. They can be included in your household only if they are already in the UK and registered as your dependants.

The same rules apply to children born while you are in the UK on a Tier 2 Visa. When seeking permission for them to stay, you will need to provide a full UK birth certificate.

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Frequently Asked Questions

One of the Tier 2 Visa requirements is to score a minimum of 70 points, which are assigned based on specific eligibility attributes. This includes:

  • 50 points for holding a valid Certificate of Sponsorship;
  • 10 points for English language skills (not applicable to Intra-Company Transfers);
  • 10 points for maintenance, that is the funds available on your bank account on the date of your application.

Long term staff applying for an Intra-Transfer permit will be awarded 30 points if they have been working for their organisation for at least 12 months. Graduate trainees will score 30 points after 3 months of service with their company. Any time spent in the UK as a Tier 2 will not count towards the experience required to be eligible for the sponsorship.

It must be noted that scoring at least 70 points will not make your visa application automatically successful. Your case will still be evaluated based on different factors and considered against the General Grounds for Refusal criteria.

If you switch from work visa to another immigration category while in the UK, or if you leave the country at the end of your Tier 2 visa, you will be subject to the so-called cooling off period.

During these 12 months, Tier 2 visa applicants are prohibited from returning to the UK. However, this does not apply whenever the applicant:

  • Is currently in the UK on a Tier 2 Visa and applying for an extension of stay;
  • Is making changes to his employment application;
  • Is returning to the UK as a “high earner”, with a minimum salary of £120,000;
  • Was in the UK for a short period with a Cos valid for 3 months or less.

If you wish to get your decision faster, you can pay an extra £500 for the Home Office’s priority service. This will make your response available within 5 working days.

Otherwise, you can pay an extra £800 for the super-priority service, and get a decision within 2 working days.

The Tier 2 Visa is a point-based permit, meaning that the worker must score a minimum amount of points as a part the visa application. Part of these points is awarded for gaining an appropriate salary, based on the annual wage each worker is going to be paid before tax.

As a general rule, the appropriate salary is £30,000. However, new entrants and applicants covering one of the roles in the shortage occupations list need a lower salary (£20,800) to score the required 20 points.

The agreed salary must be reported on the certificate of sponsorship. If the funds are in a currency other than pounds sterling, the amount stated on the CoS must reflect the relevant exchange rate.

There is an annual limit on the number of CoS available for Tier 2 General applicants. This limit also applies to those who are seeking to switch their status from a Tier 4 dependant visa to a work permit.

The annual cap does not apply to the following categories:

  • Doctors and nurses who received a job offer in the UK;
  • Migrants sponsored for a job at PhD level;
  • Roles with a salary of £159,600 or above;
  • Jobs connected with an inward investment provision;
  • All in-country applications (with the exceptions of dependants).

As a general rule, Tier 2 workers can accept a second job, provided that this does not interfere with their primary role’s responsibilities.

Any available second job must be for up to 20 hours a week in either the same profession as their main occupation or one of those listed in the shortage occupation list. Unpaid voluntary work is also allowed.

To seek employment in a different field, immigrants will need to apply for a new visa and get an additional certificate of sponsorship from their second employer. However, they will not be able to apply for an extension of leave based on their second job.

International skilled workers may be allowed to work on a freelance basis, but only in certain circumstances. First, the freelance role must be on the Shortage Occupation List and be at the same SoC level as your primary work.

Your freelance position must fall into the supplementary work category, allowed by the Tier 2 leave to remain regulations. This means that you cannot work more than 20 hours per week and that this second job must never interfere with your sponsored employment.

If your sponsor no longer needs you, you cannot stay in the UK as a self-employed person. Nevertheless, depending on your situation, you may be eligible for a different visa.

Any Tier 2 Sportsperson worker can:

  • Do a second job, but only in limited circumstances;
  • Play for his national team in the UK;
  • Work as a sports broadcaster;
  • Study in the UK;
  • Do voluntary work.