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Tier 2 Visa | Tier 2 Work Permit | Skilled Worker

The Home Office has created Tier 2 Visa or Tier 2 work permit category to replace the work permit scheme. The Tier 2 work permit allows nationals outside the EU coming to the United Kingdom with a skilled job offer to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker. It is a must that you have a UK employer who is a valid license holder to sponsor you and can issue a valid certificate of sponsorship. Please see our company/business sponsors page for more information by clicking here.

The Tier 2 category is split into 4 sections, please click on the appropriate category to read more

  1. Skilled Worker

  2. Tier 2 ICT (Intra Company Transfers)

  3. Tier 2 Sportsperson

  4. Tier 2 Minister Of Religion

Tier 2 General and how to apply for a visa to come or extend your leave as a skilled worker

You can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa if you’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK and you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. You need to be sponsored (ie have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor) before you can apply to come to the UK to work. The work you do in the UK must relate to the work of your sponsor organisation. You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the date you travel to the UK. 

In order to apply for this Tier 2 skilled work permit, you will be required to meet the requirements of the specified immigration rules and will need to score points on the following:

  1. qualifications;

  2. future expected earnings;

  3. sponsorship;

  4. English language skills; and

  5. available maintenance (funds).

One of the main changes to the Tier 2  visa is to demonstrate that the vacancy is genuine. When applying for entry clearance or leave to remain, Home Office must be satisfied that you are being sponsored to undertake a genuine role and are appropriately qualified to undertake, the role for which the Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned. In order to assess this, Home Office may: request additional information and evidence from you or your sponsor, and refuse your application if the information or evidence is not provided. Any requested documents must be received by the Home Office at the address specified in the request within 28 calendar days of the date the request letter is posted. 

Those who wish to apply under this Tier 2 work permit category can do so if they apply from outside the United Kingdom in a form of entry clearance, able to switch into the Tier 2 General category or is extending their stay.

If your application is successful, you are able to live and work in the United Kingdom for a maximum of 5 years. If you apply to extend your visa, the maximum allowed to remain is total 6 years under this category. 

After being in the UK for five years, it is possible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as permanent residency. Work permits are specific to the employers who obtained them, meaning that they are not transferable.

Is the Tier 2 sponsorship visa the right one for me?

Unless you are offered a job in a shortage occupation, it is not easy to find a sponsor for a Tier 2 visa from outside the UK. If you are not in a shortage occupation and wish to apply for a visa from outside the UK, then Tier 1 (General) or Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) could be better options for you. In certain industries, a recruitment agency may be able to help you find a sponsor. A UK visa through sponsorship is also a common route for working holiday makers who wish to continue working for their current UK employer when their Tier 5 working holiday visa expires. Gaining sponsorship with a UK employer is generally easier when you are already in the UK mainly because they can meet with you in person.

Do you qualify for the Tier 2 visa?

Tier 2 (general) is points-based. You must score 70 points to qualify for UK sponsorship, including:

  1. 50 points for Attributes (30 for being assigned a certificate of sponsorship and 20 for being paid the appropriate salary).

  2. 10 points for English language skills.

  3. 10 points for having enough funds in the bank (£800 for 90 days) or if your sponsor is ‘A rated’.

You must also be over 16 years old, and cannot be a national of the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

Your sponsorship certificate

The sponsorship certificate is the responsibility of your sponsoring employer in the UK. It isn't actually a paper certificate, but a digital certificate from which your employer will provide you with a reference number and other information such as the agreed upon wage.

Your sponsor will need to be registered as a licensed sponsor with the UK Border Agency and apply for a certificate of sponsorship for you. The certificate will act as an assurance that you intend to undertake a particular job. There is more information for sponsors on the UK Border Agency website.

Make sure you have made a final decision on intending to work for a potential employer before giving your personal information to them. Only one sponsor can assign a certificate to you, and once a sponsorship certificate is arranged you cannot be sponsored by any other employer for the period noted on the certificate.

If you get a sponsorship certificate, it does not guarantee that you will secure a Tier 2 visa. You must meet all the other requirements for this visa.

Shortage occupations

If you are qualified for an occupation that is listed on the Skills Shortage List you will automatically receive 30 points for the Attributes section of the Tier 2 visa application. You will still need a sponsorship certificate that shows you will be paid the appropriate wage. The Skills Shortage List includes specific job titles and currently includes certain engineering positions, medical practitioner positions, teaching positions, social worker positions and chef positions. You can view the current list on the UK Border Agency website here. There is a separate Skills Shortage List for Scotland.

English language skills and maintenance funds

As with other UK visas, when you apply you will have to prove your English language skills and show that you have enough money to support yourself when you arrive. To be awarded points for English language skills, you must either pass an English test approved by the Border Agency, come from a majority English-speaking country, or hold an undergraduate degree that was taught in English. When you apply for a Tier 2 visa, you will also have to show that you have £800 in personal savings (called ‘maintenance funds’) and that you have held these funds for a period of three months. The evidence you provide (such as original personal bank statements) must be dated no earlier than one month before the date of your application.

What happens if my sponsorship certificate becomes invalid?

Your sponsor is obligated to tell UK immigration if they no longer employ you or if there is a significant change in your job or salary. These circumstances may mean that your sponsored visa is not valid and you will no longer have permission to work in the UK.

If you have been approved for a Tier 2 visa, you can apply to change employment, either within the same organisation or with a new organisation. The application will be treated as a new application and a new sponsorship certificate will be required from another licensed sponsor. However, having been sponsored already will give you and your new employer confidence that approval is very likely.

You may also like to read changes and information on meeting the maintenance requirements:

To be able to apply, you must score a total of 70 points and meet all the other requirements of the Immigration Rules. To find out if you are eligible please speak to our dedicated client support team on 0207 237 3388 or use our contact form by clicking here.

We have also introduced our unique visa assessment form, so please click here to get your circumstances assessed and see whether you are eligible to apply for a UK visa. Click here to complete this assessment


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