The Tier 2 General visa category is for individuals who have an offer of a skilled job in the UK from a licensed Tier 2 Sponsor. In this post, we look at the requirements of the Tier 2 General visa route for anyone making a Tier 2 General visa application from outside the UK.
Tier 2 General Visa Application: UK Job
Before you apply for a Tier 2 General skilled worker visa, you will need to have been offered a job in the UK. Your employer (also known as Sponsor) must have an A rated sponsor licence. All Tier 2 visa sponsors receive an A rated sponsor licence when their application for UK visa sponsorship is approved. This will only be downgraded if they fail to comply with their sponsor duties.
Tier 2 General Visa Application: Sponsor List
UK Visas and Immigration maintains a register of licensed sponsors. This lists all organisations that are licensed by the Home Office to sponsor workers under Tier 2. If your employer is not currently listed on the Tier 2 visa sponsor list then they may wish to make a Tier 2 sponsor licence application. Advice from an immigration lawyer will help your employer to confirm the requirements for a Tier 2 sponsor licence application and assess their eligibility.
What is a Tier 2 General Certificate of Sponsorship?
A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic record which must be assigned by an employer for each migrant worker they employ. Each Certificate of Sponsorship has a unique reference number which enables the worker to apply for a Tier 2 visa. You will need to have been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship before you can make a Tier 2 visa application. The Certificate of Sponsorship will contain your personal details and details about the job you have been offered.
What is the Tier 2 General Resident Labour Market Test?
In most cases, your Sponsor will need to have carried out a Resident Labour Market Test. In a resident labour market test or RLMT the role is thoroughly advertised for at least 28 days in 2 permitted media. This is to show that the Sponsor is not able to find any suitable settled worker to fill the role. For more information, read our Guide to Satisfying the Resident Labour Market Test.
An RLMT is not required if your annual salary will be £159,600 or more or if your job is on the Shortage Occupation List. The Shortage Occupation list contains specific roles that are in demand in the UK. The Migration Advisory Committee has recently announced a full review of the Shortage Occupation List.
Tier 2 General Visa Application: Requirements for a Tier 2 General visa
In order to make a successful Tier 2 General visa application you will need to satisfy the following requirements:
- You must be over 16 years old;
- If you have any negative personal history (including immigration history), this may affect your application;
- If your Sponsor is a limited company, you must not own more than 10% of the shares in the Sponsor’s company unless your salary is £159,600 per year or higher;
- In most cases, the job you are employed to do must be at the graduate level or higher unless it is in the creative sector or it is on the shortage occupation list; and
- The job must be paid at £30,000 (£20,800 if you are considered to be a new entrant) or the appropriate rate for the job, whichever is the higher.
What is the Minimum Salary for a Tier 2 General Visa Application?
As a general rule, in order to make a successful Tier 2 General visa application a sponsored worker must be paid at or above either the minimum salary for the job as stated in Appendix J to the Immigration Rules, or the overall minimum salary for their circumstances, whichever is the highest.
Different minimum salary rates apply depending upon whether the prospective Tier 2 visa applicant is a ‘new entrant’ or ‘experienced worker’, the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code and the number of hours to be worked. This can be a complex area of law and advice from an immigration lawyer will ensure that the appropriate minimum salary requirement is applied.
What is the Tier 2 Cooling-Off period?
If you have been granted any Tier 2 visa in the past 12 months before the date of your application, you will not be able to apply for another Tier 2 visa immediately. This is known as the ‘cooling-off’ period. This ‘cooling-off’ period does not apply if your salary will be at £159,600 or more per year, you were assigned a short certificate of sponsorship or you were not in the UK during this period and can provide evidence to show this.
Tier 2 Visa Overseas Criminal Record Certificate
If you are above 18 years old and the job you have been offered to do is in the health, education or social care sectors, you will need to provide a criminal record certificate. This certificate can be obtained from the relevant authority in the country where you have lived for 12 months or more in the past 10 years, whilst aged 18 or over. These 12 months can be continuous or in total.
Tier 2 Visa English Language Requirement
There are a number of ways to satisfy the English language requirement for a Tier 2 visa. If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, you will need to have either:
- a degree taught in English that is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above; or
- passed an approved English language test at the correct level.
Tier 2 Visa Maintenance Requirement
You will need to show that you have enough money without claiming state benefits. You can either:
- show that you have your own savings of at least £945 for 90 consecutive days ending no more than 31 days before your application; or
- your Sponsor can certify that they will maintain and accommodate you up to the end of your first month of your employment.
Can my dependants come with me to the UK?
Your partner and any children under 18 years old may come with you to the UK.
You will also need to have additional money to support your dependants without the need to rely on public funds.
Further information about a Tier 2 General visa application
Once your Tier 2 General visa application is approved, the initial grant of your Tier 2 visa will be for the time stated on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days or the maximum time of 5 years and 1 month, whichever is shorter.
The visa for your dependants will also be valid for the same length of time.
One of the conditions attached to your Tier 2 visa will be that you are not allowed to claim public funds. You may be required to register with the police.
In most situations, you will only be allowed to work for your sponsor. However, there may be cases where you are allowed to undertake some other supplementary work or study or voluntary work.
You may be able to extend your Tier 2 General visa for up to 5 years but your total stay in the UK should not be more than 6 years under this category.