Sections

Tier 2 (General) visa – Skilled Worker

If you wish to apply for a visa in this category then our team at Hunter Stone Law will be able to guide and assist you throughout every step of the process. In order to qualify for this visa you would have to meet the requirement of the relevant section of the Immigration Rules. However we have attempted to simplify the requirements below.

You can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa if:

  • you’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland

Obtaining sponsorship

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.

Tier 2 General (up to 3 years) - shortage occupation

A shortage occupation is a skilled job where there is a shortage of workers in the UK.

Tier 2 General (more than 3 years)

Tier 2 General (more than 3 years) - shortage occupation

A shortage occupation is a skilled job where there is a shortage of workers in the UK.

Eligibility

You must have all of the following to be eligible for a Tier 2 (General) visa:

  • certificate of sponsorship reference number
  • an ‘appropriate’ salary
  • meet the English requirement
  • £945 in savings - this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply

Please note that you don’t need to have £945 in savings if your sponsor is fully approved (‘A-rated) and they have stated on your certificate of sponsorship that you won’t claim benefits during your stay.

There are some additional rules if you’re currently in the UK on a Tier 4 (General) visa and you want to switch to a Tier 2 (General) visa.

Certificate of sponsorship

A certificate of sponsorship is a reference number which holds information about the job and your personal details. It’s not an actual certificate or paper document. Your sponsor will give you your certificate of sponsorship reference number. They must also give you some other information to help you to apply, eg how much you’ll be paid, full details of the job offered, etc. You’ll need to add your certificate of sponsorship reference number to your application form – please note that you can only use it once.

Appropriate salary

The job you’re offered must pay £20,500 or more, unless your current or last permission to stay in the UK is as:

  • a Tier 2 (General) migrant before 6 April 2011
  • a Jewish agency employee
  • operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline
  • a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order
  • a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
  • a work permit holder
  • an unregistered nurse but your salary will be at least £16,271 while you are doing your supervised practice or £21,388 after you have Nursing and Midwifery Council registration - and you’ll still be sponsored as a nurse by the same sponsor after you’re registered

Knowledge of English

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

  • passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree

You may be able to meet the English language requirement in other ways or need a higher level of English in some circumstances.

Exception to the English language requirement

You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of a majority English speaking country. A full list of such countries is available on the Home Office website.

Documents you must provide

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £945 in savings continuously over the last 90 days, or your sponsor’s certification that they can support and accommodate you for the first month you’re employed
  • proof that you meet the English requirement

You will also need to provide the following:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • a passport-sized colour photograph
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  • You will also need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

Application Process

If you’re applying from outside the UK then you must apply online for a Tier 2 (General) visa.

Apply in the UK

You can only extend your existing visa or switch to this visa if you’re already in the UK.

Extend your visa

You may be able to apply to extend your stay in the UK under a Tier 2 (General) visa.  When making the application you should include any dependants who are on your current visa on your application to extend - including children who have turned 18 during your stay. In addition you must also apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility

You must have current permission to enter or stay as one of the following:

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • qualifying work permit holder
  • representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
  • member of the operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline
  • Jewish agency employee

You must also meet the following conditions:

  • you have the same job as when you were issued your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK
  • you’re still working for the employer who assigned your certificate of sponsorship
  • you’re still earning an ‘appropriate salary’

You must be in the UK to extend your visa.

How long you can stay

You can extend your stay in the UK with a Tier 2 (General) visa for up to another 5 years.

You can’t stay in the UK under a Tier 2 (General) visa for more than a total of 6 years.

If you change your job

You may need to apply to extend your Tier 2 (General) visa application if:

  • you want to change your job and your new job is with a different employer
  • your job changes to a different standard occupation classification (SOC) code
  • your job is taken off the shortage occupation list
  • your changes of job means you are paid less than the amount stated on your certificate of sponsorship or work permit

You won’t need to make a new application if you’ll be staying with your current employer but your job will change in other ways - eg if you want to change to a job in the same SOC code, or if your pay will increase.

You must have a new certificate of sponsorship and you must meet all other application conditions, but you won’t need to send evidence in support of your application if you’ve sent it for a previous Tier 2 application.

You can continue working for your previous sponsor until the start date on your new certificate of sponsorship if your current permission to stay is still valid.

You should not start your new job until you’ve received your biometric residence permit with your new permission.

Switch to this visa

You can apply to change (‘switch’) from another visa to a Tier 2 (General) visa. You should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility

You must already be in the UK under any of the following visas or schemes:

  • Tier 1 visa
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa
  • Tier 2 (Minister of religion) visa
  • Tier 2 (Intra company transfer: established staff) visa and you’re applying to change sponsor
  • Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) visa under the Immigration Rules in place before 6 April 2010 and you’re applying to change sponsor
  • Tier 4 visa, or you’re on another kind of student visa - read ‘Switching from a Tier 4 visa’ below
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Creative and sporting) for a job as a professional footballer and you meet the Tier 2 (Sportsperson) requirements
  • Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
  • Innovator Scheme
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
  • International Graduates Scheme (or its predecessor, the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme)
  • Business and Commercial work permit (except multiple entry work permits)
  • Sports and Entertainment work permit (except multiple entry work permits)

You can also switch to a Tier 2 (General) visa if you’re:

  • a dependent partner of someone with a Tier 4 visa
  • a Jewish agency employee
  • operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline
  • a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order
  • an overseas qualified nurse or midwife
  • writing up a thesis
  • a postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • a representative of an overseas business
  • a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
  • a student union sabbatical officer

Switch from a Tier 4 or other student visa

You must have got 1 of these qualifications from your student visa if you want to switch from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 (General) visa:

  • a UK bachelors degree
  • a UK masters degree
  • a postgraduate certificate in education
  • a professional graduate diploma of education

The other student visa categories are:

  • student
  • student nurse
  • student re-sitting an examination
  • overseas qualified nurse
  • person writing up a thesis
  • postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • student union sabbatical officer

PhD students

You must have completed at least 12 months’ study for your PhD during your most recent stay in the UK and had permission to take the qualification.

You must have got your qualification at a UK recognised body or an institution that has a Tier 4 sponsor licence.

Family members/Dependants

Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa. Your family members must have a visa if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:

  • your husband, wife or partner
  • your child under 18
  • your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant

Savings to show that your dependants can be supported

You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK. Each dependant must have £630 available to them whether they apply with you or separately. This is in addition to the £945 you must have to support yourself. You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.

Please note that you won’t need evidence of your savings if you have a letter from your fully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor saying they’ll provide 1 month’s funding of at least £630 for each of your dependants.

Dependants applying from outside the UK

If your dependants are applying from outside the UK then your family members must apply online.  They’ll need to have their fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of their application.

Dependants applying in the UK

Your dependants can apply to extend or switch their visas to stay with you if they’re already in the UK. They should apply using the dependant application form. It’s best to send your dependants’ applications at the same time as yours but they can apply at a later date by post, or in person at a premium service centre.

Please note that your family members can’t apply in the UK as your dependant if they hold a visitor visa.

Taking a second job

You’ll need to make a new Tier 2 (General) visa application if you want to do a second job that isn’t in the same sector as your main job or isn’t voluntary work. You can do a second job (up to 20 hours a week) that is on the shortage list without making a new application.

You’ll need to be sponsored by your second employer and get a new certificate of sponsorship if you make a new application.

You can’t:

  • apply until you’ve started work with your first sponsor
  • start work with your second sponsor until your application has been approved

Documents you must provide

You’ll need to provide some documents with your application. You must also include a letter with your application explaining that you want to change your current permission to stay. 

Your letter must state:

  • your name
  • your date of birth
  • your current certificate of sponsorship reference number
  • the date when your current permission to stay runs out 

You can come to the UK with a Tier 2 (General) visa for a maximum of 5 years and 14 days, or the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 1 month, whichever is shorter.  Your stay must start no more than 14 days before the start date on your certificate of sponsorship.

You can apply to extend this visa for up to another 5 years, as long as your total stay is not more than 6 years.

What you can and can’t do

You can:

  • work for your sponsor in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship
  • do a second job in the same sector and at the same level as your main job for up to 20 hours per week
  • do a job which has a shortage of workers in the UK for up to 20 hours per week
  • do voluntary work
  • study as long as it doesn’t interfere with the job you’re sponsored for
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • bring family members with you

You can’t:

  • own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares (unless you earn more than £153,500 a year)
  • get public funds
  • start working before you get the visa
  • apply for a second job until you’ve started working for your sponsor

You’ll need to make a new application if you want to do a second job that’s not in the same sector as your main job.