To apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa, you must be a skilled worker from outside the European Economic Area and have a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK employer who holds a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence. There is an annual cap on the number of Tier 2 (General) visas that can be granted. The cap currently stands at 20,700. People earning over £150,000 per year are excluded from the cap.
Summary of Applicant Requirements
In order to qualify you must:
- Have a job offer from a licenced UK employer and a valid Certificate of Employment from that employer.
- Meet the UKBA maintenance requirements
- Meet the UKBA English requirements
- Score 70 points or more in the Tier 2 points test.
In order to gain entry into the UK, under the terms of the Tier 2 visa, an applicant must score 70 points under the Tier 2 points-based system.
Job offer and sponsorship
You will receive 30 points if you have a valid Tier 2 (General) certificate of sponsorship from your employer. You are eligible for a Tier 2 (General) certificate of sponsorship if one of the following applies to you:
- The job is on the shortage occupation list *
- Your sponsor has completed a resident labour market test
- You will be paid £150,000 or more per year (very few people earn this much)
N.B. If you have been working in the UK under a Tier 2 (General) visa and your job is on the shortage occupation list, but that job has now been removed from the shortage occupation list, you may continue to work in the UK. You may also apply for an extension to your visa if you intend to stay in your job working for the same employer. If you intend to continue doing the same job but for a different employer, that employer must complete a labour market test first.
You will score 20 points if you will be earning the ‘appropriate salary and allowances’.
In most cases this means that you must earn £20,000 a year, inclusive of allowances, before tax. If this applies to you, you will earn 20 points. If you do not you will not score any points unless one of the following applies to you:
- You came to the UK as a Tier 2 (General) migrant under the rules in force before 6th April 2011.
- You are a Jewish agency employee
- You are a member of the ground staff for a foreign airline
- You are a minister of religion, a member of a religious order or a missionary
- You work for an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcaster
- You are the holder of a UK work permit
English Language Ability
You must score 10 points for your English language ability or you will not be eligible for a Tier 2 (General) visa extension. Since 6th April 2012, applicants for many visas have been obliged to take an English language test. To qualify for 10 points under the Tier 2 (General) points-based test you must prove that your English is at least at level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). However, you will not have to do so if one of the following applies to you:
- You were last given leave to remain in the UK under the Tier 1 (General) or the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa tiers or as a businessperson, a work permit holder, a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcaster, a member of the ground staff of an overseas airline or a Jewish agency employee
- You come from a majority English-speaking country
- You have a degree which was taught in English)
You must score ten points in this category to qualify for a Tier 2 (General) visa.
You will automatically score ten points if you are currently in the UK in any of the following immigration categories:
- Any Tier 2 visa category
- Work permit holder
- Jewish agency employee
- Member of ground-staff for an overseas-owned airline
- Minister of religion, missionary, or member of a religious order
- Representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation.
Alternatively, you can score ten points if you can show that one of the following applies to you
- You have at least £900 in savings which must have been in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you make your application:
- Your sponsor has an A rating and has confirmed that it will maintain and accommodate you until the end of your first month in the UK.
For 2012/13 and 2013/14 there is a cap of 20,700 on the number of Tier 2 (General) visas that can be issued. The annual limit begins each year on 6th April. Workers earning more than £150,000 a year are excluded from the cap. There is no limit on the number of workers earning more than £150,000 a year who can work in the UK.
General Rules for all applicants wanting to travel to the UK under Tier 2
Skilled migrant workers who come to the UK with a Tier 2 visa after April 2012 (and so will not be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain until after 6th April 2016), will need to earn more than £35,000 per annum or their applications will not be successful. Immigrants doing shortage occupation jobs, and scientists and researchers in PhD-level roles, will be exempt from the £35,000 threshold requirement for permanent residence. Other Tier 2 visa holders will only be allowed to remain in the UK for 6 years.
Transitional arrangements are available only for migrants currently in the following categories who wish to extend their leave under the points based system:
- work permit holders (business, commercial, sports, entertainment)
- airport-based operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline
- ministers of religion, missionaries, and members of a religious order.
Summary of Employer Requirements
If an organisation wishes to offer employment to people from outside the EEA/ EU under the terms of Tier 2 then it must first:
- Register with the UK Border Agency and obtain a Sponsorship License
- Advertise the job in the UK in accordance with the terms of the Resident Labour Market Test
- Issue a job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship to an applicant it wishes to employ
If you are an employer and need assistance with obtaining a Tier 2 Sponsorship License then please complete a free evaluation form.