Tier 2 General: An Overview

What is the Tier 2 General visa?

The Tier 2 General visa is a category designed for skilled workers who have been offered employment in the UK. It replaced the previous Work Permit scheme in 2008. Tier 2 General visa holders are employees who have been hired by a UK sponsor because they are skilled enough for a role that cannot be filled by settled workers.

How do you qualify for Tier 2?

To apply for Tier 2, you will need the following:

  • Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). Applicants must have been issued with a CoS by a UK based employer. The employer must appear on the list of licenced sponsors, current details of which can be found on the gov.uk register
  • Please note that the CoS is not an actual paper document, rather an electronic record on a database. Each CoS has a unique reference number and contains information about the prospective worker, the job they will be coming to the UK to perform, the length of the contract and the salary.
  • Appropriate salary. There are minimum salary requirements which vary dependant on the job the applicant is coming to perform. Details of current rates can be found here.
  • Knowledge of English Language. Tier 2 General applicants must demonstrate English Language of at least B1 on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), evidenced by taking an appropriate test, being a national of a majority English speaking country or holding a degree which was taught in English.
  • Maintenance. Applicants must show that they have at least £945 of savings held for 90 days prior to making their visa application. Alternatively they can ask their sponsor to act as guarantor for this requirement and record this on the CoS.

How long is Tier 2 granted for?

Tier 2 General visas are granted for the length of contract stated by the sponsor on the Certificate of Sponsorship (plus one month) up to a maximum of five years. Applicants are able to extend their visas within Tier 2 General up to a maximum of six years in total.

What restrictions are there?

Applicants must undertake the job for which they were initially granted a visa for, i.e.: the job detailed on the CoS. If applicants change employers, or even move to a different job within the same organisation they will need to make a fresh Tier 2 application.

It is possible to take a second job whilst working on a Tier 2 General visa, in certain circumstances. Tier 2 General holders are able to study, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the job that they are being sponsored for. Self-employment is permitted within Tier 2 under certain circumstances.

Can you include family members in this visa?

Applicants can include partners and children aged under 18 on this visa, they will be granted the same length of time as the main applicant. These family members will be able to work or establish their own businesses in the UK.

Does Tier 2 lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

Tier 2 General holders will become eligible to apply for settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) after five years provided that they are still required for UK employment by a licensed sponsor. They must be earning a minimum salary of £35,500 – this is due to rise each year as follows:

  • £35,800 if applying for ILR on or after 6th April 2019
  • £36,300 if applying for ILR on or after 6th April 2020
  • £36,900 if applying for ILR on or after 6th April 2021
  • £37,900 if applying for ILR on or after 6th April 2022

Applicants will also need to satisfy the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK requirement and should not have spent more than 180 days in any 12 months period outside the UK.

Family members will also usually be eligible for ILR after completing 5 years as a dependant.

How can we help?

White Rose Visas are able to assist with any Tier 2 General application, as well as more intricate forms of these applications such as those who would like to be self-employed. We are also experienced in other Tier 2 applications such as Minister of Religion and Sportsperson; if you are looking to prepare an application such as this or are unsure how to proceed with your particular circumstances, please contact us and we will be happy to advise you.

If you are an employer or Sponsor and are looking for more details on the sponsorship process, please see our dedicated Sponsor Licensing Guide.

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