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Skilled migrants moving to the UK

I am a highly skilled migrant, what are my option for moving to the UK? While there are many options available to migrants who wish to study or work in the UK, there is a special visa option for those who are "highly skilled." Depending on your area and level of expertise, the UK has an option that is suitable for many candidates who could be classified as being "highly skilled." In this article, we investigate the options for those who have an advanced skill set and are looking to move to the UK.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa

The first port of call for those who are highly skilled is likely to be the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. This visa is designed for those who are able to be endorsed as either a leader (exceptional talent) or an emerging leader (exceptional promise) in one of the following fields:

  • Science
  • Engineering
  • Humanities
  • Medicine
  • Digital Technology
  • The Arts

As you may already realise, the eligibility criteria for this visa is harsh and will only be available to a very select group of people with very specialised skills. You will need to be endorsed via the Gov.uk online system and will usually receive a decision within the standard 8-week processing time that is usual for the Home Office for visa applications. You may get a faster decision if you are a digital technology specialist under some specific circumstances.

Once you receive your endorsement, you will need to apply for a visa within three months or start the process over again.

A Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is an excellent option for those who qualify as they automatically receive 5 years of stay (if applied for from within the UK, or 5 years 4 months if not already in the country) and will give you a quick route to indefinite leave to remain. This is among the most generous of the visas available in the UK and is very popular with academics and highly skilled individuals.

But please note that there are only 1,000 places available for the Tier 1 Exceptional Visa every year. These places are offered over two separate intakes. This makes selection difficult and it pays to talk to immigration specialists such as ours to ensure that you fully understand the eligibility criteria and have all the necessary information to make an application.

What if I do not qualify for the Tier 1 Exceptional Visa?

Do not fret, there are still plenty of options for those who do not fall under the umbrella of the Tier 1 Exceptional Visa. The main route after this is the Tier 2 General Visa. With the Tier 2 General Visa, you will require a Certificate of Sponsorship from a sponsor business in the UK that shows you have a firm job offer and that you fit a need that cannot be met via the local market.

What is the eligibility criteria for the Tier 2 General Visa?

As you may imagine, the eligibility requirement of the Tier 2 General Visa is not as strict as a Tier 1 Exceptional Visa. As long as you can attain a job with an appropriate sponsor, you will be well on your way. The remaining eligibility criteria are:

  • Prove you will be paid an appropriate salary (usually at least £30,000)
  • Prove your knowledge of English
  • Have enough savings to support yourself when you arrive
  • Show your travel history for the last 5 years.

The Tier 2 General Visa is a very common way for migrants to enter the UK. It offers the option to come and work and even allows for you to bring a dependant (you will be required to show that you can support them).

How long can I stay in the UK on a Tier 2 General Visa?

You will be able to come to the UK for a maximum of 5 years and 14 days. You can also stay for up to 14 days in the UK before the start date on your Certificate of Sponsorship. You can also apply to extend the visa for another 5 years as long as your total stay doesn't exceed 6 years.

What are the do's and don'ts of a Tier 2 General Visa?

What can I do on a Tier 2 General Visa?

  • Work for your sponsor in the role as described in your Certificate of Sponsorship
  • Do a second job under certain circumstances
  • Do voluntary work
  • Study as long as it doesn't interfere with your work
  • Travel abroad and return to the UK
  • Bring family members with you

What can't I do on a Tier 2 General Visa?

You cannot

  • Own more than 10% of your sponsor's shared
  • Get public funds
  • Apply for a second job until you've started working for your sponsor

What if I want to change jobs?

You can change jobs while on a Tier 2 General Visa, but you will have to get a new Certificate of Sponsorship from your prospective employer and use it to apply for a new visa and Biometric Residence Permit.

Where can I find sponsors?

The two usual ways are to use the Government's own list or search job boards. The ideal way is to use the Government's list as it only shows sponsors and will save you a lot of time and effort searching for employers that you will not be able to work for.

How we can help

Our immigration specialists are well versed at working with would-be immigrants to help them with their visa queries. We can offer advice and help to ensure that you are eligible and have all of the information that you need in order to make a successful application.

So, for more information or help with your visa query get in touch. Our immigration specialists are ready to help you, so give us a call today.

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