Tier 2 Settlement Options
Eligibility for settlement as a Tier 2 Migrant can vary depending on when you applied for your visa.
Tier 2 (General) Migrants
Tier 2 (General) Migrants are eligible for settlement after five years in this category. However, if you entered the Tier 2 category under the Immigration Rules in place from 6 April 2011, you will be limited to six years in the Tier 2 (General) category in most cases. This means you have a year to apply for settlement.
If you cannot meet the requirements for Tier 2 settlement (e.g. because your employer does not pay you enough), one option is to seek an alternative Sponsor. You will need to apply for an extension of stay. If you then meet the requirements for a Tier 2 visa, you can settle if you have been in the category for five years. The five years does not have to have been with the same employer. If that is possible, then you will need to switch immigration category, or leave the UK after the six years.
Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) Migrants
Whether a Tier 2 (ICT) Migrant can settle in the UK depends on when the migrant was granted leave in the category.
If you were granted your first leave in the category under the Immigration Rules in place before 6 April 2010
You are eligible to apply for settlement after five years’ continuous residence in the category, alone or in combination with certain other immigration categories. There is no limit on your stay in the Tier 2 (ICT) subcategory, so you can keep extending your visa until you meet the settlement requirements if necessary.
If you were granted your first leave in the category under the Immigration Rules in place between 6 April 2010 and 5 April 2011
You have no category-specific route to settlement. However, you do have two options:
1) Long residence
Your stay in the Tier 2 (ICT) category is not limited. This means that if your employer continues to sponsor you, your stay in the UK is not limited. You can continue to extend your visa until you have reached 10 years’ lawful residence in the UK. At that point you may eligible for settlement based on long residence in the UK. If you have dependants, they will be eligible for settlement in their own right if they have also been in the UK for ten years lawfully. However, if your dependants entered the UK after you, or were born in the UK during your time as a Tier 2 (ICT) Migrant, you will need to make alternative arrangements for them. For example, a spouse who has been in the UK for less than ten years as your dependant may need to switch into a spouse visa at the time you apply for settlement.
2) Switch immigration category
There are other immigration categories you may be eligible to switch into (see below) if extending your Tier 2 (ICT) leave further is not an option.
If you were granted your first leave in the category under the Immigration Rules in place on or after 6 April 2011
You are not eligible to settle in the UK, and your stay in the UK under the Tier 2 (ICT) Long Term Staff category is limited to five years (nine if you are a high earner).
What if I can’t settle?
If you are not eligible for settlement because you fall under the Immigration Rules in place after 6 April 2011, then your options to remain in the UK are limited.
1) Switch visa category
You are permitted to switch into some immigration categories from within the UK. If you stay in the UK for ten years as a Tier 2 migrant and in any combination of these categories, you would be potentially eligible for settlement after ten years’ continuous lawful residence.
Some categories you may consider switching into include:
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur): if you want to set up and become a Director of a UK business, or become a Director of an existing UK business, you may be able to switch into this category from within the UK. You will need to show that you have £200,000 of your own money (or £50,000 from certain alternative sources) to invest in the business. This category also has its own route to settlement, and successful entrepreneurs can potentially settle faster. To find out more about this category, please download our brochure.
- Tier 1 (Investor): if you have access to at least £2 million, which you want to invest into the UK by way of UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active UK companies, you are potentially eligible to apply for this visa. This category also has its own route to settlement, and successful entrepreneurs can potentially settle faster. To find out more about this category, please download our brochure.
- Tier 4 (General): if you have an offer to study at a licensed Tier 4 institution, you can apply for a visa to study in the UK. This category does not have its own route to settlement. Therefore, if settlement is your goal you would need to ensure your plan of study, or after your study, would get you to ten years in the UK.
- Family based categories: If any of your family members, or members of your household, in the UK are UK or EU citizens, you may be able to apply to remain in the UK on this basis.
2) Leave and apply to return.
If you are not able to switch into the category you prefer from within the UK, you may need to leave the UK and apply from your visa abroad. However, if you are not eligible for settlement in the UK at this moment, it is likely you will be prevented from returning under the Tier 2 visa category for 12 months, as you may be subject to the cooling off period.
For advice and assistance in relation to applying for settlement as a Tier 2 migrant or alternative immigration options, contact our skilled migration immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or via our online enquiry form.