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The Tier 2 General visa category is for individuals who have an offer of a skilled job in the UK from a licensed Tier 2 Sponsor. This category includes applicants coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations. You will need to have an offer of employment before applying for a visa.

What are the main eligibility requirements for a Tier 2 General visa?

In order to qualify for a Tier 2 General visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You have a job offer in the UK from an employer that holds a Tier 2 Sponsor License;
  • The job you are sponsored for is at least graduate level or a specified creative profession;
  • The job is on the Home Office’s list of skilled occupations;
  • You will be paid a minimum salary of £30,000 (£20,800 for some applicants) or the minimum for the exact job you are doing, whichever is higher;
  • The job offer is a genuine vacancy and you are appropriately qualified or registered to do the job.

Your Sponsor will need to show that there is no suitable settled worker to fill the role. In most cases, they will need to prove that they have undertaken a genuine ‘Resident Labour Market Test’. This normally means that they have advertised the role for at least 28 days in two places and no suitable settled worker has applied.

A Resident Labour Market Test is not required in cases where the job is on the Shortage Occupation List, or if you will be a high earner (annual salary of £159,600 or more). If you are switching from a Tier 4 General Student visa then your employer will usually be exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test.

You will need to be competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0 in reading, writing, listening and speaking) and have enough additional money to support yourself without relying on public funds.

What else do I need to know about the Tier 2 General visa?

If your application for a Tier 2 General visa is approved then your first visa can be valid for a maximum period 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.

Your partner and any children under the age of 18 may accompany you as your dependents.

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

You can settle permanently in the UK after being in the Tier 2 General category for five years, and if you have been in the UK in certain other immigration categories you may be able to combine the time spent to count towards settlement.

If you have held a Tier 2 visa in the last 12 months, you may be subject to a ‘cooling off period’. You will not normally be able to apply to re-enter the UK in this category from overseas during this period.

You can switch into the Tier 2 General immigration category if you are already in the UK under Tier 1, 2, or 4 of the point-based system.

If you are currently in the UK as a Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) migrant, you will only be able to switch into the Tier 2 General category if your Tier 2 ICT visa was granted before 6th April 2010 and you are applying to change sponsor, or you have leave under the Tier 2 ICT: Established staff category granted before 6th April 2011 and are applying to change sponsor.

If you are currently in the UK as a Tier 4 General Student, you will need to have either completed and passed your degree level course or be applying no more than 3 months before the expected completion date, in order to be eligible to switch into the Tier 2 General category.

You can include guaranteed allowances to demonstrate that you meet the minimum salary criteria, as long as they would also be paid to a settled worker.

You must not own more than 10% of the shares of the company sponsoring you, unless your gross salary is £159,600 or more.

In most cases you will only be able to work for your Sponsor, though you may be able to do some additional part time work in certain circumstances.

If you will be working in certain health, education or social work professions you may need to provide a criminal record certificate from any country that you have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years.

How our immigration barristers can help

Our team of business immigration barristers has experience in assisting employers and skilled workers across a variety of industries in companies of all sizes. Our barristers can help you with planning to ensure that you meet your start date and ensure that your career progression will fit your immigration goals.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to skilled workers as part of a professional and friendly service.

We can also assist with

  • Obtaining a Tier 2 Sponsor License

    Your employer will need to have a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence before applying for the visa. Our immigration barristers can guide them through the sponsor licensing process and work with them to ensure that this is completed in time for you to start work.

  • Conducting a Resident Labour Market Test

    The Home Office will need to see that your employer has done all they can to find a suitable settled worker before they sponsor you. Our immigration barristers can review any advertising that has already been completed and assist with running a new recruitment campaign if required, in full compliance with the Resident Labour Market Test.

  • Completing a Certificate of Sponsorship and requesting a restricted CoS

    It is important to get the Certificate of Sponsorship correct. If it requires amendments then this can cause delays to your visa application. This is especially true of Restricted CoS. Our immigration barristers can help your employer to draft the Certificate of Sponsorship and ensure that it is compliant before it is assigned to you.

  • Compliance and record-keeping

    The Home Office require sponsors to keep on top of a vast amount of guidance and in a busy organisation it is easy to fall behind. We can provide comprehensive advice on all aspects of the Sponsor Guidance. We also offer an Immigration Audit service, where we will audit your current processes and suggest where improvements could be made.

  • Changes of employment and secondary employment

    It is possible to change job when on a Tier 2 visa, but you must apply for a visa first. The immigration process needs to be aligned with your notice period and start date. Our immigration barristers can help you to plan this.

    It is possible to undertake additional part time work in certain circumstances. It will need to be in the same occupation and at the same professional level as your sponsored role. Our immigration barristers can advise you whether or not this is the case. If not, you will need to apply for additional work authorisation.

  • Remedying problems with your Sponsor

    If your sponsor terminates your employment for any reason (including if the organisation closes), or is not keeping to the terms of your sponsorship, our immigration barristers can provide advice on how to regularise your stay.

  • Sponsor Licence downgrades, suspensions and revocations

    If the Home Office suspect that your sponsor has not complied with their sponsor duties their sponsor licence may be suspended. After this it may be downgraded or revoked. Our immigration barristers can assist your sponsor in challenging the decision and explore your options for alternative routes to remain in the UK with you.

  • Applications for extension of stay as a Tier 2 General migrant

    Your Tier 2 General visa will be valid for up to five years, depending on the length of your job. You can extend your visa if your job is still ongoing, but you will be limited to six years. You will need to have a valid certificate of sponsorship issued by your employer and be paid an appropriate level of salary.

  • Applications for settlement as a Tier 2 General migrant

    You can settle permanently in the UK after being in the Tier 2 General category for five years, and if you have been in the UK in certain other immigration categories you may be able to combine the time spent to count towards settlement.

    You must still be required for the job and you must meet any minimum salary requirement applying to you. In addition, you will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient knowledge of the English language and Life in the UK.

    You can spend up to 180 days (six months) outside the UK each year and still qualify for permanent residence.

    If you do not settle after six years, you will need to switch immigration category or leave the UK.

  • Applications for Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visas

    The Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer category is for individuals who have a job offer in the UK from a licensed Tier 2 Sponsor. You will need to have a job offer before applying for a visa. You must be transferring from an overseas branch of the organisation that is linked to the UK organisation by common ownership or control.

  • Fresh applications, Administrative reviews and Judicial reviews for Tier 2 General migrants

    If your application for entry clearance, leave to remain or settlement as a Tier 2 General Migrant has been refused, our immigration barristers can advise on the merits of making a fresh application or challenging the decision.

    If the decision-maker failed to apply the Immigration Rules or Home Office policy correctly, we can bring Administrative Review proceedings to challenge the decision.

    If the decision to refuse your application was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally improper, our immigration barristers can apply for Judicial Review and provide representation at Judicial Review hearings.


To discuss your Tier 2 General visa application with one of our immigration barristers, contact our Tier 2 General visa lawyers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form.



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