Tier 2 work visa
A Tier 2 visa is suitable for skilled workers who have a job offer from a licensed sponsor in the UK, and who are coming to fill a gap in the labour force that cannot be filled by someone already in the country. It provides the primary immigration route for skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland to come to the UK to work for an approved licensed employer.
There are four types of Tier 2 visa covered under the UK’s Points Based System (PBS) and made up of the following four subcategories:
- Tier 2 General– for people who have an offer of a skilled job that can’t be filled by a settled worker
- Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer – for people who already work for an international company and need to transfer to a UK branch. This includes both graduates transferring for training and long-term staff transferring to fill a post that can’t be filled by a settled worker
- Tier 2 Minister of Religion– this allows religious workers to undertake employment within a faith community in the UK
- Tier 2 Sportsperson – for elite sportspeople or coaches who can make a significant contribution to their sport in the UK
Tier 2 visa requirements
The Tier 2 (General) visa enables skilled non-EEA migrant workers to accept an offer of a job that cannot be filled by a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker, including workers coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations i.e. where there are not enough workers in the domestic labour market to meet demand.
To meet the eligibility requirement and qualify for a Tier 2 visa, you will need to demonstrate that:
- You have a job offer in the UK from a sponsored employer who holds a valid Tier 2 Sponsor License
- The sponsored job is at least graduate level or a specified creative profession and will not displace a suitably qualified or skilled worker
- 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
- You score a minimum of 70 points under the points based system
- Meet the English language and maintenance requirement
Genuine vacancy requirement
Under the new ‘genuineness’ rules, the Home Office must be satisfied that the applicant is being sponsored to undertake a genuine vacancy in the UK that will not displace a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker.
To establish that this is the case, the prospective employer will be asked to undertake a genuine Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), showing that they have advertised the role for at least 28 days in two places and no suitable settled worker has applied. It is important the RLMT is carried out and requirements met before assigning a Certificate of sponsorship (CoS).
A Resident Labour Market Test is not required where the job is on the Shortage Occupation List, or if the annual salary is £159,600 or more. It is also not required in cases where you are switching from a Tier 4 General Student category.
Tier 2 skill & salary level requirement
A job that is offered to a non-EEA migrant worker must meet the relevant Tier 2 skill and salary levels; the level of skill and salary varies depending on the job offered to the migrant worker. The job will need to meet level 6 or above on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). In a creative sector occupation, or for a job that appears on the list of shortage occupations, the job must be skilled to RQF level 4. The minimum salary requirement is usually at least £20,800 per annum for new entrants or £30,000 for experienced workers, or the appropriate rate for the job in question, whichever is higher.
Certificate of sponsorship requirement
Having offered a migrant worker a genuine job at the appropriate skill and salary level, you must assign a valid Certificate of Sponsorship. This can only be done if you are a UK licensed sponsor. If you are not yet licensed under Tier 2, you will need to apply for approval from the Home Office. Under your duties and obligations as a Tier 2 sponsor you must only assign Certificates of Sponsorship to migrant workers who are appropriately qualified or registered to do the job shown. The Certificate of Sponsorship must also confirm that the job is at the required skill and salary level.
As a Tier 2 visa applicant, you must satisfy the Home Office of your ability to support yourself on arrival in the UK. This can be done by providing proof of personal savings or a maintenance guarantee from your UK licensed sponsor, stating that they will cover the costs of any maintenance and accommodation for the first month of employment in the UK.
English language requirement
You will also be required to satisfy the Home Office of your knowledge of the English language. This is done by passing an approved English language test, or by having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised as being equivalent to at least a UK bachelor’s degree. Nationals of a majority English-speaking country will be exempt from proving their knowledge of English.
Introduction of points based system post-Brexit
On 31 January 2020 the UK officially departed from the EU and entered a transition period. The government has advised that it intends to end free movement for citizens from the EU, EEA and Switzerland as soon as possible and will be introducing a points-based system, similar to that in place for non-EEA migrants.
When the post-Brexit transition period comes to an end and the new points-based system kicks in on 1 January 2021, all foreign nationals will be required to apply for a visa to be able to work lawfully in the UK. But until the changes are formally introduced, there is still uncertainty as to what the final immigration system will look like from 1 January 2021. In the meantime, it is important to remember that the rules relating to visas under the existing UK points-based system for non-EEA nationals are subject to constant change and legal advice should always be sought.
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