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Work Visa for Skilled Employees

The UK is one of the strongest economies in the world with low rate of unemployment and a high standard of living. These economic conditions have attracted skilled migrants from different parts of the world to the seek job opportunities in the UK, thereby necessitating a visa category that ensures that only the best and capable hands are employed.

The Tier 2 (General) Visa is a Work Visa category for those offered a skilled job in the UK. It allows skilled persons to enter the UK to occupy a skilled job vacancy (e.g. healthcare, teaching, IT) for a long period of time. You MUST have this visa before you can work in the UK. However, this requirement does not affect people from the European Economic Area (EEA countries) or Switzerland.

How do I get a Tier 2 Work Visa?

The first thing you need to do before applying is to make sure that you are offered a job by an organisation with a valid Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence. When you secure the offer, your employer will give you Certificate of Sponsorship (CS) reference number. Without it, your application will be disregarded. This CS is not an actual or physical certificate but a reference number containing your personal information and details of the job potential salary. The salary offered has to match the appropriate rate for the job you are offered. If you wish to know more about the appropriate rate, you can check here.

You are also expected to have the required level of English proficiency. In addition, you are also expected to have a minimum of £945 in your bank account for 90 days as proof that you can support yourself for the first month of your employment. However, you may not need the savings if

  • You have a fully approved 'A-rated' sponsor OR
  • Your CS clearly states that your sponsor will give you at least £945 to cover your costs for the first month of your employment

When I get my Tier 2 Visa, can I change jobs?

It is important to note that if you intend to change employment to a new firm, you will need a new Tier 2 visa. This means getting a new Certificate of Sponsorship from your new employer. However, as a holder of a Tier 2 visa, you are able to work for an extra 20 hours per week as long as it is

  • Overtime separate from the predefined working hours stated in the CS OR
  • In another job in the same sector and at the same professional level as your sponsored job.

As an Employer what do I need to know about Tier 2 Visa applications?

Any employer in the UK that intends to hire migrants from overseas (outside the EEA or Switzerland) has to hold a valid Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence. This condition still holds even if the employment is on a voluntary basis. The license allows you to give your potential employees a Certificate of Sponsorship (CS) for applying for a Tier 2 work visa. The CS acts as a guarantee that the applicant has the capability to carry out the job in question.

Tier 2 jobs must usually be advertised to workers from within the EEA before they can be offered to non-EEA citizens. This is known as a Resident Labour Markey Test. In other words, the vacancy must be advertised to UK workers before it can be offered to an immigrant, unless it is on the Tier 2 shortage occupations list. Every year, the UK publishes a list of shortage occupations that employers struggle to fill (e.g. doctors, nurses, engineers). The jobs on this list do not need to be advertised to residents of the EEA before they are offered to non-EEA citizens.

Tier 2 Visa Categories

There are four main Tier 2 Visa categories namely:

  • Tier 2 (General) visa: This is for workers offered a skilled job and a CS from a Tier 2 sponsorship licence holder.
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Visa: This is for employees of a multinational organisation looking to transfer personnel to their UK branch
  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) Visa: This is for workers who are offered a job for religious purposes within a religious community in the UK. For example, a minister of a religion or a missionary
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa: This is for elite sportspeople and coaches. The applicant must be recognised or endorsed by their sport's governing body.

As a sponsor you will be required to keep

  • A copy of the migrant's passport
  • A copy of migrant's biometric residence card
  • Contact details and National Insurance Number

You will also be required to inform the UKBA if a sponsored migrant

  • Does not turn up on their first day of work
  • Is absent from work for more than 10 days without sponsor's granted permission
  • Has significant changes in his circumstances such as change of job
  • Is dismissed or resigns, etc.

How can I get a sponsorship Licence as an Employer?

To get a sponsorship licence, you will need to register with UK Visas and Immigration as a Licenced Sponsor. For this registration to be accepted, you will have to meet certain requirements for the specific Tier 2 Visa category and accept certain responsibilities to assist with immigration control.

Since the UK immigration is under pressure to shrink immigration, the home office is taking necessary measures to ensure that the requirements of tier 2 sponsorship licences are met.

As an employer, you will have to update yourself on new regulations concerting work visas. For instance, there is a new introduction to the Tier 2 sponsorship licence requirement. Starting 6 April 2017, employers will be required to pay £1000 per year as Immigration Skills Charge for Tier 2 visa immigrants. This means that if you employ an immigrant for a period of 3 years, you will have to pay £3000 as Immigration skill charge for that worker.

At Reiss Edwards, we have a team of top immigration lawyers with over 10 years of experience in immigration services. We have helped numerous migrants with their Tier 2 Visa application process and also helped employers to acquire Tier 2 Sponsorship Licences. For further advice or professional advice on Tier 2 Visas, contact us today for a free initial assessment on 020 3744 2797 send us an email on


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Kind regards
Nancy Jacquard

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