UK’s Tier 2 visa is the most common visa type companies use to hire foreign talents. It allows skilled workers to live and work in the UK on a long term basis. The Tier 2 visa is open to a wide range of skilled occupations that are present in the Tier 2 occupation list including IT, healthcare, teaching, and accountancy.
This visa type allows applicants to bring their partners and children along with them to the UK as long as the applicant can show sufficient funds to provide for them.
The Tier 2 Visa Categories
The jobs under the Tier 2 General visa category must usually be advertised to workers within the European Economic Area (EEA) before it can be offered to anyone outside the EEA, unless the job vacancy falls under the Tier 2 Shortage Occupations List or if the vacancy comes under the category of tier 2 intra-company transfer visa.
Here is the list of different Tier 2 Visa Categories:
Tier 2 (General) Visa:
This visa is for workers who have a skilled job offer and a certificate of sponsorship from an employer with a valid Tier 2 sponsorship license in the UK. The vacancy must be advertised to workers in the UK before it can be offered to an immigrant unless it is on the Tier 2 Shortage Occupations List.
This visa has an annual cap of 20,700 for job applicants residing outside of the UK.
Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer):
This visa is reserved for employees of multinational companies who are being transferred to a branch in the UK. Employers must provide these applicants with a valid certificate of sponsorship in the following two sub-categories:
- Long term staff
- Graduate trainee
Tier 2 (Minister of Religion):
The Tier 2 Minister of Religion is a visa category for missionaries and ministers of religion that have been offered jobs within a religious organization in the UK.
Tier 2 (Sportsperson):
This visa category is reserved for elite sportspeople and coaches, and it must be recognized or endorsed by their sport’s governing body.
Tier 2 Visa Requirements and Points System
Apart from getting a job with a UK employer, applicants for the Tier 2 Visa may be required to complete an approved UKVI version of the English language test. This requirement is only if they are not nationals of an English-speaking country or have not completed a degree level course taught in English.
Similarly, there are several requirements applicants need to take into consideration while drafting the Tier 2 work visa application:
- The applicant should have an offer for a skilled job in the UK.
- The job offer should be from a UK employer holding a valid Tier 2 Sponsor Licence from UKVI.
- The applicant should be assigned with a valid certificate of sponsorship (CoS) number from their employer.
- The applicant’s job should pass the Resident Labour Market test (undertaken by the employer). In some cases, a Resident Labour Market test exemption can apply.
- The applicant should be paid an appropriate salary for the job and should be above the minimum salary threshold of £20,800.
- The applicant will need to satisfy the English language requirement; at least CEFR level, B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
- The applicant will need to show maintenance funds of £945 to support themself and have maintained the funds for a minimum of ninety days, unless exempt.
- You can learn more about these requirements under different headings below.
The Tier 2 Shortage Occupations List
In general, all skilled jobs should be advertised for at least 28 days before they can be offered to a Tier 2 applicant unless it is listed in the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List. The jobs found on this list often include physical and medical scientists, such as engineers, doctors, and nurses.
The full Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List for can be found here.
The Certificate of Sponsorship for Tier 2 Visa
The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), is an electronic record that holds the personal and job information for each applicant. A CoS reference number is valid for three months from the date of issue. So, it can only be used for one application. It is a digital certificate reference number.
The employer should provide the applicant with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) number. This will be needed to file a valid Tier 2 Visa application.
The Tier 2 Visa as a Path to Permanent Residency
After 5 years, Tier 2 visa holders can apply for settlement/Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). The maximum time one can spend in Tier 2 (General) route is 6 years. When applying for settlement, the applicant must meet the following requirements:
- Must spend at least 5 years continuously in the UK.
- Should have a minimum annual salary of £35,000 or following the relevant SOC, whichever is higher.
- Must meet the Knowledge of Language and Life (KoLL) requirements.
- Should not be absent from the UK for more than 180 days in each qualifying year.
- Should provide the specified documents in support of the application.
- An application for ILR should be made. This should be done after 5 years of the qualifying period or 28 days before the applicant reaches the qualifying period. The qualifying period starts from the day of the initial application for entry clearance or leave to remain in the UK is approved.