Is Tier 2 General A Settlement Visa?
The Tier 2 General Visa is arguably the UK's most popular visa route. Offering a way for businesses to hire the skilled migrants that they need, the visa helps to plug skills gaps that businesses need to fill. While it is clearly a good visa for businesses, it is also beneficial for the visa holders themselves; the chance for them to move countries and use their skills to build a life and career in the UK is a strong incentive. But what happens to those migrants who wish to stay in the UK for the long-term? While some visa holders will choose to move back to their country of origin, or to a third country, many will want to stay. It is this option - settling in the UK on a Tier 2 General Visa - that we will look at in this article.
Settling In The UK On A Tier 2 General Visa
One of the most common queries that we receive is how you settle in the UK on a Tier 2 General Visa. The answer is relatively straightforward you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after spending 5 years in the UK on the visa. Due to the maximum length of the initial visa being limited 5 years and 14 days, it is often necessary to extend your visa during your stay in the UK (as many visas are granted for shorter periods than the maximum - this depends upon your Certificate of Sponsorship).
Another worry that is common for those on a Tier 2 General Visa is that they will need to remain with their initial sponsor for the whole 5 year period, this is not the case. You are essentially free to move to another Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder at any time, but you must ensure that you receive your new visa before leaving your current job. If you do not do this then you are in breach of your visa conditions. It is important that you ensure that there are no employment gaps during your stay.
Can I Use A Tier 2 General Visa As Part Of My Long Residence Claim?
Yes, the Tier 2 General Visa can be used as part of a claim for Indefinite Leave to Remain due to long residence. In order to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain under this route, you will need to prove that you have lived in the UK continuously and lawfully for a period of at least 10 years. As well as having resided in the UK for this period of time, you must also not have left the country for more than 6 months on any single occasion, and you must not have left the UK for more than 18 months in total over the 10-year qualifying period.
In order to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the long residence route, you will need to submit an application online and pay the appropriate fee. During the application, you will be required to provide documentation that proves your stay in the UK, some of the following items may be required;
- Bank statements
- Utility bills
- Evidence of education or employment
- Evidence of accommodation - i.e. mortgage statements and tenancy agreements
- Evidence of travel history
As well as the documentary evidence that proves your stay in the UK, you will also need to show that you have a proficient level of English (to CEFR B1 level) and also pass the Life in the UK test. If you need help with gathering documents or just need some advice, call today and speak to a member of our team.
Leaving The Country For Extended Periods
If you are looking to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you need to take into account that your travel history will be assessed. In order to satisfy the requirements, you will need to ensure that you have not left the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 month period over the last 5 years. If you do not have all of the details of your travel over the previous 5 years, you are able to apply for a Subject Access Request from the Home Office which will detail your absences from the UK. From this information, you will be able to tell if you are eligible to apply.
Applying For Indefinite Leave To Remain
If you have reached 5 years in the then you may want to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain To do this, you will need to first ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria, which is laid out below;
- You are of good character
- You have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK (by taking the Life in the UK test) and the English language
- You have not spent more than 900 days outside of the UK in the five-year qualifying period
- You have not spent 180 days or more outside of the UK in the 12 months prior to your application for ILR
If you meet these criteria, you will be able to make an online application, during which you will be required to provide information pertaining to your stay thus far in the UK. You will also need to pay a fee. Once submitted, your application should be assessed in approximately 8 weeks, and you will be contacted if there are any further questions. If your application is successful, you will be free to live in the UK with no further visa restrictions (though you will still need to ensure that you normally reside in the UK to maintain your rights).
Getting More Help
If you need help with an immigration query then please get in touch. Our experienced team of immigration solicitors can help you to navigate the UK's immigration system. We are on hand to provide advice and support whenever you need us. So get in touch today and let us help you.