Is it Time to Extend Your Tier 2 (General) Visa?
The Tier 2 (General) visa enables individuals from outside of the EEA to enter and work in the UK, and are initially valid for three or five years. If you have been living and working in the UK under this scheme, your visa may be further extended to a maximum of six years. It should be remembered, however, that after five years of continuous residence, Tier 2 visa holders can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), allowing them to remain in the UK permanently, assuming they meet the eligibility criteria to do so.
Am I Eligible to Extend my Tier 2 (General) visa?
If your existing Tier 2 (General) visa is due to expire, and you wish to extend your stay, you will be required to demonstrate that you:
- have a current valid Tier 2 (General) visa
- still have the same job you used to gain your current visa
- are still with the same employer who assigned your certificate of sponsorship
- are still earning an ‘appropriate salary’
It is also important that you are currently in the UK in order to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa extension.
How Can I Apply for a Tier 2 (General) Visa Extension?
You must apply to extend your Tier 2 (General) visa before it expires. The application is completed online, however, you also be required to make an appointment to visit a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point in order to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photograph). Your supporting documents can be uploaded as part of the online application process or be scanned at the UKVCAS service point.
How Long Will It Take to Receive a Decision on my Tier 2 (General) Visa Extension?
According to the Government guidance, decisions on Tier 2 (General) visa extensions can take up to two months (eight weeks) if using the standard application service, or five working days if the priority service is used.
For applicants using the super-priority service, you can expect to receive a decision by the end of the next working day following your appointment with UKVCAS, assuming it is on a weekday, or two working days if at the weekend.
If your application is successful, your Biometric Resident Permit (BRP) should arrive within ten working days.
If the case officer reviewing your application has concerns or questions, you may be asked to provide additional supporting evidence or attend an interview. If this does happen, your application decision may be delayed.
It is important to note that if there is a delay in your decision, or if your visa has expired while you are awaiting a decision, you do not need to worry that you may be treated as an overstayer; rather you can continue to live and work in the UK as normal while your decision is pending.
What if there Will be a Change in my Job Circumstances?
Many Tier 2 (General) visa holders are understandably unsure whether they can extend their visas if aspects of their job have changed. The Home Office states that you may need to apply for a new visa if you plan to:
- move to a different employer
- change to a job in a different standard occupation classification (SOC) code (and you’re not in a graduate training programme)
- leave a job that’s on the shortage occupation list for a job that is not on the list
You may, however, be able to extend your visa if you want to move to a new role within the same SOC category for the same employer, or if your pay is simply increasing, however, you may need to have a new certificate of sponsorship.
If you are unsure if any change in your work or other circumstances may mean you cannot apply to extend your Tier 2 (General) visa, it is advisable to speak to a specialist immigration Solicitor.
What are the Fees to Extend my Tier 2 (General) Visa Extension?
The fees to extend a Tier 2 (General) Visa depend on the duration of the extension and whether the role is on the shortage occupation list. Fees range from £464 to £1,408 for the applicant and each dependant. In addition, you will also need to pay:
- the healthcare surcharge; in order to check how much you will need to pay (for you and your family members), visit the UK Government immigration health surcharge calculator.
- £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken
- £500 for the priority service
- £800 for the super-priority service
COVID-19 Frontline Health Workers
If you are currently in the UK on Tier 2 (General) work visa and you are working in any of the below front line healthcare roles for the NHS or other healthcare provider, you and your family members will automatically receive a one-year visa extension at no charge (if it is due to expire before 1st October 2020).
- biological scientist
- dental practitioner
- health professional
- medical practitioner
- medical radiographer
- occupational therapist
- social worker
- speech and language therapist
- therapy professional
While the extension is supposed to be automatic, it is highly recommended that you speak to your HR department (if they have not already told you) who can confirm that they have, or they plan to advise UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that your visa should be extended. Once they have informed the Home Office, your employer should request that you post your and your family’s current biometric residence permits (BRPs) to UKVI, or they may offer to send it for you.
Having spent several years in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) work visa, the process of applying for an extension, if you have not yet reached the five-year period for ILR eligibility, should be relatively straightforward. If you have any concerns regarding your eligibility, your circumstances have changed, or if your application is declined, do seek specialist immigration advice. Doing so will give you and your family the best possible chance of being able to remain in the UK.