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Tier 2 General Skilled Worker Visa

The Tier 2 General 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.

Tier 2  General is a Point Based Category and points can be awarded for the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), Appropriate Salary, English language and funds for maintenance.


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.

There is an annual limit on the number of Certificates of Sponsorship available under Tier 2 (General). This limit applies to Certificate of Sponsorship for those nationals seeking entry clearance to the UK under the Tier 2 (General) category and those who are applying to switch into Tier 2 (General) category from within the UK as a dependant of a Tier 4 (General) student. We refer to these as “restricted” Certificates of Sponsorship.

Duration of 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 complete and pass your degree level course before you are 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.

Switching into Tier 2 General Skilled Worker Visa:

You can apply from inside the UK if you have, or were last granted, leave in one of the categories listed below:

  • Any Tier 1 category;

  • Tier 2 (General);

  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer: Established Staff) if you are applying to change sponsor;

  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer), under the rules in place before 6 April 2010 if you are applying to change sponsor;

  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson);

  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion);

  • Tier 4 (General) student3;

  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) in the Creative and Sporting sub-category, for a job as a professional footballer switching into Tier 2 (Sportsperson)only;

  • Dependant partner of a Tier 4 student;

  • Highly Skilled Migrant Programme;

  • Innovator;

  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme;

  • International Graduates Scheme (or its predecessor the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme);

  • Business and Commercial work permits (except multiple entry work permits) including Intra-Company Transfer work permits;

  • Sports and Entertainment work permits (except multiple entry work permits);

  • Jewish Agency Employee;

  • Member of the Operational Ground Staff of an Overseas-owned Airline;

  • Minister of Religion, Missionary or Member of a Religious Order;

  • Overseas Qualified Nurse or Midwife;

  • Person Writing Up a Thesis;

  • Postgraduate Doctor or Dentist;

  • Representative of an Overseas Business;

  • Representative of an Overseas Newspaper, News Agency or Broadcasting Organisation;

  • Student;

  • Student Nurse;

  • Student Re-Sitting an Examination;

  • Student Union Sabbatical Officer.

If you wish to obtain advice or legal assistance in respect of your immigration matter, we offer an affordable and confidential consultation at a fixed fee with and experienced immigration lawyer where we can answer your questions and explain the processes that will apply. Your consultation fees will be set off against your instructions to the firm if you go on to instruct us.

For more information or to book an initial consultation, please contact us

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