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UK Tier 2 Visa

If you're a skilled worker looking to contribute to the UK's workforce, applying for the Tier 2 Visa which is now officially known as Skilled worker visa, is your best bet. We cover the process in full, so you know exactly what you're getting into.

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Note: Tier 2 work visa is replaced by the Skilled Worker Visa under the new point based system (PBS). Please check the new requirements and application guidance on our Skilled Worker visa page.

Forward thinking businesses aim to attract only the best talent the world has to offer so as to strengthen and add further value to their palette. In a global state like the UK, it is important that businesses find it relatively easy to attract and retain the highest level of talent to maintain their position as the global economic hub. Key sectors within the economy that must be open to global talent include all professional, technological and medical services.

Sustained business growth in a contemporary world requires the most talented and skilled workers to help drive quality and innovation. Globalisation has further lent a helping hand to businesses, such that they are able to source their talent from a global marketplace.

The UK (as a leading economy in the world) is no exception. The Tier 2 visa category has been designed as a Points Based System to allow foreign skilled workers to take up skilled jobs in UK based firms.

At Reiss Edwards, our highly experienced and qualified UK immigration lawyers can help your company reach its full potential if you need to recruit workers from outside the UK. We have an expert team of business immigration and Tier 2 visa lawyers who specialise in global and corporate immigration.

Tier 2 (General) Visa

Following the closure of the Tier 1 General route, the Tier 2 visa category has now become the major work visa category. It benefits workers looking to apply for long term employment (General), those wanting to transfer from a company based overseas to a company in the UK (Intra-company Transfer), sportspeople involved at a high level in their sport (Sportsperson), and religious workers (Minister of Religion).

It is important to note that you will be required to obtain a certificate of sponsorship to be able to apply for a leave to enter or remain via any of the aforementioned categories. It is classed as a PBS immigration route and would require applicants to score at least 70 points to qualify. Applicants will also need to meet the English language requirements alongside the maintenance requirements.

Tier 2 Visa Application

To apply for a Tier 2 work visa, you must have been offered work by an employer who has a valid Tier 2 Sponsor Licence. The role must be one above NQF Level 6 and the salary on offer must be at the appropriate level.

The Home Office has published a list of sponsorable job roles in the UK alongside their appropriate salary levels. The Home Office follows the salary requirements in a strict manner, as your Tier 2 visa application will be refused if the job you are being offered does not meet the stipulated salary requirements.

Click here to find the salary requirements for sponsorable roles in the UK. Sponsorable roles are roles at or above NQF Level 6.

Tier 2 Visa Extension

The Tier 2 visa is normally issued for 3 years, after which time you may be eligible to apply for a Tier 2 visa extension. Your extension application will depend on whether your current employer is willing to continue having you in that role, while also maintaining the appropriate salary.

Cost Of A Tier 2 Visa

The Tier 2 visa application fees include the following:

  1. Home office fees
  2. IHS Fees
  3. Skills charge
  4. Sponsor Licence fee
  5. Legal fees

The Sponsor Licence fees and Skills Charge are payable only by the employer. Also, the sponsor licence fees only matter when the employer does not have an existing sponsor licence.

Tier 2 Entry Clearance Application - Out-Of-Country

A restricted Certificate of Sponsorship is usually required for entry clearance as a Tier 2 General Migrant unless the job is stated on the Shortage of Occupations List, or, alternatively, if the migrant will be considered as a "high-earner" with a salary on offer of at least £159,600 gross per annul.

The application for entry clearance can only be made after the following are satisfied:

  1. The sponsor obtains the sponsorship licence (A-Rated)
  2. Resident Labour Market test - by placing adverts on two advertising platforms for 28 days
  3. A Certificate of Sponsorship is issued and assigned to the migrant

The entry clearance application requires the migrant to satisfy the following requirements:

  • Appropriate Salary - this must be at least £30,000 or the minimum salary as per the relevant Standard Occupational Code (SOC Code) which closely matches the job role
  • Appropriate Level - a migrant can only be sponsored in a skilled job at or above Regulated Qualifications Level (RQF) 6. The only exception to this is if the code falls in one of the creative sector Standard Occupational Codes
  • English Language - at level B1
  • Maintenance - must either be certified by the sponsor company or provide evidence that the migrant has, in their personal account, funds amounting to at least £945, held for a minimum period of 90 consecutive days

Tier 2 General Annual Limit - Restricted Certificate Of Sponsorship (CoS)

Certificate of Sponsorship available under the Tier 2 (General) visa is limited in number on an annual basis. This limitation is applicable to individuals who seek entry clearance under the Tier 2 (General) category, as well as individuals who make applications to switch as a dependent of Tier 4 (General) student into the Tier 2 (General) category from within the UK. These are referred to as Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship.

Individuals who seek entry into the UK tend to take up vacant positions with a £150,000 salary or more, whilst other applications within the UK (apart from the Tier 4 dependents who intend to switch) are not influenced by the limit. In this circumstance, the Certificate of Sponsorship is referred to as unrestricted and can be assigned by the sponsors without initially making an application for authorization.

Tier 2 Leave Conditions

It is important to note that successful Tier 2 General applications will surmount to the applicant being offered leave for up to 3 years, with the potential of the leave being extended for an additional 3 years. The individual is not permitted to apply again to return to the UK under this category until the elapse of 12 months after which the previous Tier 2 leave had expired. This is also applicable in situations where the individual has been on the Tier 2 visa for less than 6 years. However, in a situation where the individual leaves the job held with the Tier 2 Sponsor, they should ensure the sponsor passes the information across to the UKBA so that the leave will be curtailed. Note also, that the 12-month period begins from the date of expiry of the individual's leave.

Challenging Refusal Of A Tier 2 Visa

In a situation where the individual's application was rejected, the individual can choose to oppose the decision by making a request for an Administrative Review to the Entry Clearance Manager (ECM). However, if the decision is also held by the Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) then the individual can challenge it by making an appeal through a Judicial Review in High Court.

What Are The Minimum Points Required To Approve Your Tier 2 Visa Application?

Tier 2 visa applicants must score a minimum of 70 points to be eligible for a visa. The summary of the points are as follows:

ConditionPoints
Valid CoS30
Appropriate Salary20
English language requirement10
Maintenance funds10

However, if you need to employ someone from outside the UK, you will need to apply for a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship. It is important to note that the points gained from assigning Certificates of Sponsorships may vary depending on the type of job.

See the table below for additional information:

Type of jobPointsSalaryPoints
Shortage Occupation130£100,000 to £159,599.9960
£75,000 to £99,999.9955
PhD level occupation code listed in Table 1 of Appendix J of the Immigration Rules75£70,000 to £74,999.9950
£65,000 to £69,999.9945
£60,000 to £64,999.9940
£55,000 to £59,999.9935
£50,000 to £54,999.9930
Resident Labour Market Test met by the 'Milkround' provisions and the individual being sponsored meets the 'post study work' provisions.30£45,000 to £49,999.9925
Job passes Resident Labour Market test or an exception applies20£45,000 to £49,999.9925
£44,000 to £44,999.9924
£43,000 to £43,999.9923
£42,000 to £42,999.9922
£41,000 to £41,999.9921
£40,000 to £40,999.9920
£39,000 to £39,999.9919
£38,000 to £38,999.9918
£37,000 to £37,999.9917
£36,000 to £36,999.9916
£35,000 to £35,999.9915
£34,000 to £34,999.9914
£33,000 to £33,999.9913
£32,000 to £32,999.9912
£31,000 to £31,999.9911
£30,000 to £30,999.9910
£29,000 to £29,999.999
£28,000 to £28,999.998
£27,000 to £27,999.997
£26,000 to £26,999.996
£25,000 to £25,999.995
£24,000 to £24,999.994
£23,000 to £23,999.993
£22,000 to £22,999.992
£20,800 to £21,999.991

Switching Into The Tier 2 General Visa

An individual who is already residing in the UK under a visa category that allows that person to switch into the Tier 2 General category, is entitled to apply for residence as a Tier 2 General migrant from within the UK. The individual is, however, expected to fulfil all applicable criteria inclusive of any other stipulation with regards to switching into the Tier 2 General category from the individual's current visa status. For the individual to be eligible to apply for leave from within the UK, the applicant must be issued an Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship. For more information on the Tier 2 General Category, please refer to the Tier 2 General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at the bottom of this article.

Who Can Switch Into A Tier 2 General Category From Inside The UK?

If an individual is issued (or was previously issued) a leave of entry in any one of the below listed categories, then they can apply to switch into the Tier 2 General Category from within the UK:

  • Any Tier 1 category;
  • Tier 2 (General);
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer: Established Staff) if you are applying to change sponsor;
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer), under the rules in place before 6 April 2010 if you are applying to change sponsor;
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson);
  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion);
  • Tier 4 (General) student;
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) in the Creative and Sporting sub-category, for a job as a professional footballer switching into Tier 2 (Sportsperson) only;
  • Dependant partner of a Tier 4 student;
  • Highly Skilled Migrant Programme;
  • Innovator;
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme;
  • International Graduates Scheme (or its predecessor the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme);
  • Business and Commercial work permits (except multiple entry work permits) including Intra-Company Transfer work permits;
  • Sports and Entertainment work permits (except multiple entry work permits);
  • Jewish Agency Employee;
  • Member of the Operational Ground Staff of an Overseas-owned Airline;
  • Minister of Religion, Missionary or Member of a Religious Order;
  • Overseas Qualified Nurse or Midwife;
  • Person Writing Up a Thesis;
  • Postgraduate Doctor or Dentist;
  • Representative of an Overseas Business;
  • Representative of an Overseas Newspaper, News Agency or Broadcasting Organisation;
  • Student;
  • Student Nurse;
  • Student Re-Sitting an Examination;
  • Student Union Sabbatical Officer.

Switching From A Tier 4 General Student To A Tier 2 General

An individual wishing to make a switch from the Tier 4 General Student category into the Tier 2 General can do so if the following requirements are fulfilled:

  • The individual must have excelled and successfully completed a bachelor's or master's degree, post-graduate certificate in Education or a Professional Graduate Diploma of Education acknowledged by the UK; or has spent a minimum of 12 months in the United Kingdom on study towards earning a PhD in the UK during the present leave period or a continuous leave inclusive of the previously issued leave of entry;
  • The individual has studied for an eligible award at an institution recognised by the UK or a listed body, or an educational institution that holds a permit to take up sponsorship for Tier 4 Points-Based system students;
  • The individual is making the application from within the UK

If the Tier 2 sponsor fulfils the requirements for switching as mentioned above, they would be free from fulfilling the Resident Labour Market Test. The applicant will make use of the Unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship issued to them by the employer to make the application. However, it is expected that the individual's working position and salary level be in line with the criteria for the Code of Practice.

Switching From A Tier 1 PSW To A Tier 2 General

An individual who has been granted entry into the UK on a Tier 1 Post Study Work visa can make an application to switch into the Tier 2 General from within the UK. In this category it is expected that the employer makes available an unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship which the applying individual would use whilst making the Tier 2 General application. However, it is expected that the individual's working position and salary level be in line with the criteria for Code of Practice.

Tier 2 Visa To Dependent Visa

Tier 2 visa migrants can switch from their current visas to become dependants to any visa categories in-country. Therefore, it is not necessary for them to leave the country to make an application to switch their visas.

Tier 2 Work Visa Extension

An individual who resides in the United Kingdom as a Tier 2 General migrant can seek to extend their stay from within the country, either before the authorised permit has expired or if the applicant is changing job (alongside attaining sponsorship from a different sponsor of the Tier 2 category). This application can only be made from within the United Kingdom.

Change Of Employment Applications

If an individual seeks to change employer, they must make an application for a change of employer. The applicant is then expected to possess a new Certificate of Sponsorship as well as fulfil the points criteria.

The applicant is also required to apply for a change of employment if they are still with the same employer (subject to exceptions).

When Can I Apply To Renew Or Extend My Tier 2 Visa?

Technically, you can renew your Tier 2 visa anytime; however, you'd stand to gain no strategic advantage if your renewal application expires.

As a firm, our advice would be to submit a renewal application 28 days before your current visa expires. If you submit a renewal application in a significant amount of time before your current one expires, the Home Office will process it as normal and you may end up with a timeframe of fewer than 5 years. Remember, also, that you must have been in the UK for at least 5 years before you qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Any time shorter than that may result in you not hitting the 5 years required for ILR.

Therefore, we suggest that you apply for your Tier 2 visa renewal or extension at least 28 days before your current (Tier 2) visa expires.

ILR Tier 2 General

If you are looking to make an application for ILR based on being on a Tier 2 General visa for 5 years, please give us a call now on 020 3744 2797. As a rule, you must first and foremost have lived in the country for at least 5 years continuously under the Tier 2 visa category.

To ensure a successful ILR application, you will need to show you have actually been working in the UK throughout the 5-year period as a Tier 2 migrant and your current employer is your sponsor. In addition, you must show that you are not only currently in employment, but you are still needed on the job. The employer will need to formally verify this in a letter as part of the necessary supporting documents.

We would normally recommend you get professional help/advice for regulated immigration lawyers if you are looking to apply for a Tier 2 ILR. The application form to make this application is the Form SET (O).

Applying For A Tier 2 Dependant Visa

Those who classify as a dependant include a husband/wife, civil partner, unmarried partner, same-sex partner, or child (under the age of 18 years) of a main applicant.

It is important to note that dependants must be over the age of 18 years, except for child dependants. However, children who are over the age of 18 may still qualify to apply as child dependants if they became 18 in the UK whilst on a PBS dependant visa.

Entry Clearance As A PBS Dependent Of A Tier 2 General Migrant

If you have been granted leave to remain as a Tier 2 General migrant, your dependants can apply with you. Also, if you are looking to submit an entry clearance application as a Tier 2 general migrant, you may apply with your dependents as well.

Switching Into PBS Dependant Visa As A Dependant Of Tier 2 General Migrant

The immigration rules have and will continue to be met with several reforms and changes. The rules now allow for applications to be made within the country to switch into a PBS Dependant as a Tier 2 General migrant. The exceptions to this include where the applicant is currently in the UK as a visitor and where the applicant is on temporary admission or release.

The age of the dependant as highlighted above also applies to switching.

Extension Of Stay As A PBS Dependant Of A Tier 2 General Migrant

If you are currently in the UK as a dependant of a Tier 2 General Migrant, you may be able to extend your stay as a dependant of a Tier 2 migrant if you continue to meet the requirements. Importantly, your extension will be in line with that of the main applicant.

ILR As PBS Dependant Of Tier 2 General Migrant

If you have been granted leave to remain as a PBS Dependant of a Tier 2 General prior to the 9th of July 2012, you will be able to apply for ILR if you have resided in the UK for at least 2 years as a PBS Dependant. Importantly, the main applicant must have either been a settled person or has lodged an ILR application

However, for applications made after the 9th of July, PBS Dependants will need to have resided in the UK for at least 5 years as a PBS Dependant of a Tier 2 General migrant.

Can You Get Citizenship In The UK After A Tier 2 Visa?

You will be eligible to apply for a British passport (citizenship) one year after holding an ILR status in the UK. This means you will qualify to apply for British citizenship 6 years after your initial Tier 2 visa grant.

It is important to note that your British citizenship application is not really linked or directly related to your Tier 2 visa, but rather is based on you having held ILR status for one year.

How Much Will The Whole Tier 2 Visa Application Process Cost?

The spiralling cost of Tier 2 visa applications is aimed at achieving two things:

1. Ensuring that more employers are priced out of it, meaning that employers will only employ migrants when they really need to

2. Acting as a revenue generator for the Home Office

Earlier this year, the Home Office announced that the price changes were necessary to ensure that the Home Office achieves a self-funding system, whilst it continues to deliver a high level of competitive service which continues to appeal to businesses and talents.

Cost for the Tier 2 migrant

Fees DescriptionAmount
The Tier 2 visa application form£575
NHS (IHS) Surcharge - Fees paid upfront for the duration of the visa£200
Priority service from inside the UK£500
Priority service from inside the UK - Weekends and out of office hours£563
Priority postal service£300
Priority service from outside the UK£460
Super priority service form outside the UK£750
Tier 2 ILR application£2,389
Tier 2 migrant naturalising as a British citizen£1,236

Cost for the Employer

Fees DescriptionAmount
Sponsor licence application fee (large organisations)£1,475
Sponsor licence application fee (small organisation)£536
Assigning a Certificate of sponsorship£199 (per worker)
Immigration skill charge (large organisations)£1,000 (per worker)
Immigration skill charge (small businesses and charities)£364 (per worker)


Maximum Stay Outside The UK

The rules specify that a Tier 2 migrant must not have been absent from the UK for more than 180 days during any 12-month period within a continuous period of 5 years. The end date of the continuous period will be considered as ending on whichever is the most beneficial to the applicant.

Where the absences are work-related, these must be confirmed by the employer in writing. The letter from the employer must detail the purpose and period of absences, including any periods of annual leave.

Where there is a long period of absence from the UK, there must be a valid reason for such. If the reason is not work-related, it must be considered "serious and compelling", and a detailed explanation must be provided in writing by the applicant, as well as any relevant supporting documents.

Do absences for the main applicant differ from absences for dependants?

The residential requirement for main applicants has been in place since the category was established. The rules, however, did not confirm that dependants were subject to this same requirement for years until 11 January 2018 when the rules were amended to include dependants. The effect, however, is not retrospective and only absences incurred after 11 January 2018 will count towards the 180 days.

Tier 2 Visa Lawyers London

Our team of specialist Tier 2 visa lawyers can advise you on how best to prepare your Tier 2 visa application. We will advise you on all documents required to ensure a successful visa application.Contact us today if you require professional advice. Our business immigration solicitors are based in Central London and can offer a free initial consultation over the phone. You can reach us on 02037442797 or send us an email on info@reissedwards.co.uk

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