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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Tier 2 visa application fees include the following:
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.
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:
The entry clearance application requires the migrant to satisfy the following requirements:
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.
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.
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.
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:
|English language requirement||10|
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 job||Points||Salary||Points|
|Shortage Occupation||130||£100,000 to £159,599.99||60|
|£75,000 to £99,999.99||55|
|PhD level occupation code listed in Table 1 of Appendix J of the Immigration Rules||75||£70,000 to £74,999.99||50|
|£65,000 to £69,999.99||45|
|£60,000 to £64,999.99||40|
|£55,000 to £59,999.99||35|
|£50,000 to £54,999.99||30|
|Resident Labour Market Test met by the 'Milkround' provisions and the individual being sponsored meets the 'post study work' provisions.||30||£45,000 to £49,999.99||25|
|Job passes Resident Labour Market test or an exception applies||20||£45,000 to £49,999.99||25|
|£44,000 to £44,999.99||24|
|£43,000 to £43,999.99||23|
|£42,000 to £42,999.99||22|
|£41,000 to £41,999.99||21|
|£40,000 to £40,999.99||20|
|£39,000 to £39,999.99||19|
|£38,000 to £38,999.99||18|
|£37,000 to £37,999.99||17|
|£36,000 to £36,999.99||16|
|£35,000 to £35,999.99||15|
|£34,000 to £34,999.99||14|
|£33,000 to £33,999.99||13|
|£32,000 to £32,999.99||12|
|£31,000 to £31,999.99||11|
|£30,000 to £30,999.99||10|
|£29,000 to £29,999.99||9|
|£28,000 to £28,999.99||8|
|£27,000 to £27,999.99||7|
|£26,000 to £26,999.99||6|
|£25,000 to £25,999.99||5|
|£24,000 to £24,999.99||4|
|£23,000 to £23,999.99||3|
|£22,000 to £22,999.99||2|
|£20,800 to £21,999.99||1|
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.
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:
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
|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
|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)|
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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