The Tier 2 visa is now the main UK immigration route for skilled workers coming to the UK to take up employment, usually paying a salary of at least £20,800. In order to apply for this visa you must have a job offer and a certificate of sponsorship from a UK employer with a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence. The Tier 1 General Visa Category for independent skilled immigration to the UK without a job has not been available for new applicants since April 2011.
This guide is split into the following sections:
- Length of stay
- Required funds
- Tier 2 salary requirements
- Taking up new or additional employment
Tier 2 General Visa Length of Stay
Up to 5 years and 14 days, or up to one month after the period stated on your certificate of sponsorship (whichever comes first), and up to 6 years with extensions.
Tier 2 (General) visa applicants must have funds of at least £945, and must have had this amount consistently for 3 months or more, unless their Tier 2 sponsor can guarantee their maintenance with the UK Home Office. Only ‘A rated’ sponsors have this option.
The job stated on a Tier 2 certificate of sponsorship must pay an ‘appropriate’ salary. This usually means at least £20,800 per year. There are exceptions for certain groups, workers whose previous OR current permission to enter the UK fall under the following categories have different salary rules:
- Tier 2 (General) visa holders whose visas were granted before April 2011
- Employees of a Jewish agency
- Ground staff employed by an airline based outside of the UK
- Religious workers, including ministers, missionaries, and religious order members
- Workers employed by a media organisation – such as a newspaper or television news station – based outside of the UK
- Work permit holders
- Unregistered nursing staff
Tier 2 Visa and New or additional employment
Tier 2 Workers on this visa who wish to leave their job and work for a new employer will need a new tier 2 visa. Tier 2 visa holders are free to work for an additional 20 hours per week in the following circumstances:
- In another job on the shortage occupation list or a job in the same sector and at the same professional level as the work for which the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) was assigned.
- Outside the working hours covered by the CoS for the Tier 2 Visa.
TIER 2 INTRA – COMPANY TRANSFER VISA
This category allows multinational companies to transfer workers from their overseas operations to a UK branch. The sponsorship conditions for this visa are similar to those for the Tier 2 (General); the worker must have a confirmed UK job and a certificate of sponsorship from their employer, who must hold a valid Tier 2 sponsorship license.
UK VISA TIER 2 CERTIFICATE OF SPONSORSHIP
In order to apply for a Tier 2 UK visa, you must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from an employer with a Tier 2 Sponsorship licence. Your prospective employer must request and if granted assign your CoS via their online Sponsor Management System account. In order to do so they must be a UK Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence holder and must have access to the Sponsor Management System (SMS) as a level 1 User. Level 2 users can only assign an unrestricted CoS. They will then provide you with a certificate number which you must use when submitting your visa application.
You will not receive a physical certificate, though you may ask your employer for a print out of the details for the certificate from the SMS system. There are two types of Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship are to employ people based outside the UK. Unrestricted CoSs are to employ people switching to a tier 2 visa from within the UK.
TIER 2 MINISTER OF RELIGION VISA
For workers coming to the UK to fill a position – such as as a minister of religion or missionary – within a religious organisation in the UK. As with all Tier 2 visas, the worker must have a confirmed job in the UK and a certificate of sponsorship from a religious organisation with a valid Tier 2 sponsorship license before they apply.
TIER 2 SPORTS PERSON VISA
For top-level athletes and coaches – whose application is being endorsed by their sport’s governing body – who are coming to the UK to work in a way that will help their sport’s development. Workers for this visa must have a certificate of sponsorship from a sports organisation with a valid Tier 2 sponsorship license before they apply.
Length of stay
Up to 3 years, and up to 6 years with extensions