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What is the Tier 2 General Visa?

Immigration expert Flora Mewies talks you through the Tier 2 General Visa.

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Tier 2 General - overview

What is the Tier 2 General visa?

This visa is for skilled workers who have been offered a job in the UK with a company that holds a sponsor licence.

How do I get sponsored for a Tier 2 General visa?

Before you can apply for this visa you need to have a suitable job offer and the employer needs to be a registered sponsor.

A list of all registered sponsors can be found here.

Do I need a job offer to be eligible for this visa?

Yes. You must have had an offer of employment from a registered sponsor. This job must meet the minimum skill level and minimum salary (see below).

For all roles on the Shortage Occupation List (except Nurses), there is no requirement to conduct the Resident Labour Market Test.

What do I do if my employer doesn’t have a sponsor licence?

Without a sponsor licence your employer cannot sponsor you for a Tier 2 General visa. You should either look for a new role with a registered sponsor or speak to your employer about applying for a sponsor licence.

Can I bring my family to the UK with me?

Yes, you can bring certain family members known as “dependants” with you. These are your:

  • spouse or partner
  • children under the age of 18
  • children over 18 who are already in the UK as your dependant.

If you are already in the UK with your dependants and you switch to the Tier 2 General visa, they will be able to remain with you. Whether or not they need to apply for new visas will depend on the circumstances and it is recommended that you contact us to discuss this further.

How long can I have a Tier 2 General visa for?

You can hold this visa for a maximum of 6 years. It cannot be extended beyond this but you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain

Can I extend my Tier 2 General visa?

Yes. You can apply for your visa in the first instance for up to 5 years and can hold a Tier 2 General visa for a maximum of 6 years. If you apply for a shorter visa initially, you can apply to extend this subsequently.

Can I settle/obtain ILR in the UK with a Tier 2 General visa?

Yes, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK once you have held a Tier 2 General visa for 5 years.

There are other eligibility requirements for ILR which you should be mindful of. Please contact us to discuss these to ensure that you do not fall foul of these whilst holding your Tier 2 General visa.

Can I change employers on a Tier 2 General visa?

The Tier 2 General visa only allows you to work in your sponsored role for your sponsor/employer. If you wish to change employers, you can do so if you receive a new qualifying job offer from another employer with a sponsor licence. You will then have to make a new visa application.

Can I move to a new role with my current sponsor on a Tier 2 General visa?

Yes however you may need to be issued with a new CoS and make a new visa application.

What is the Tier 2 cooling off period?

The Tier 2 cooling off period prevents an individual who has held a Tier 2 visa from returning to the UK for a period of 12 months after their visa expired, on another Tier 2 visa. There are certain exemptions to this rule which we would be happy to discuss with you.

My visa has been curtailed what do I do?

If your visa has been curtailed you will receive a letter from UKVI informing you of this and giving you a period of time within which you are required to leave the UK or alternatively, submit a new valid visa application. To ensure that you are taking the correct steps within the correct time frame, we strongly recommend that you contact us to discuss your visa curtailment.

Tier 2 General - eligibility

What is the minimum salary I have to earn for a Tier 2 General visa?

Each role that can be sponsored for a Tier 2 General visa has a minimum salary set by UKVI. These can be found here and are split into ‘new entrant’ and ‘experienced worker’ salaries.

For a new entrant, the minimum salary is £20,800pa or, if higher, the salary stipulated in the Immigration Rules.

For an experienced worker, the minimum salary is £30,000pa or, if higher, the salary stipulated in the Immigration Rules.

For help identifying the minimum salary you need to earn, please contact us.

Does my job need to meet a minimum skill level for a Tier 2 General visa?

Yes. Currently, the role that you will be sponsored to do must be at RQF Level 6 or above (equivalent to degree level). This will change under the new immigration system from January 2021 where the skill level will be reduced to RQF Level 3 or above (equivalent to A Level).

What is the Shortage Occupation List?

The Shortage Occupation List is a list of all roles in the UK which UKVI believes there are not enough settled workers to fill. The current shortage occupation list can be found here.

Tier 2 General - application process

How do I apply for a Tier 2 General visa?

You will be required to complete an online application form, upload copies of your supporting documents and then book and attend an in-person appointment to give your biometric details (fingerprints and photograph).

How much does it cost to apply for a Tier 2 General visa?

The fee depends on the role you will hold, where you are applying from and the duration of your visa.

You will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for the duration of your visa and pay a fee of £19.20 to enrol your biometric information.

If you are a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia, the fee payable will be slightly lower. Please contact us for further information.

How much is the Immigration Health Surcharge?

This is currently £400 per person, per year of your visa. It is an upfront cost and is due to increase to £624 per year from October 2020.

Can I claim a refund for the Immigration Health Surcharge?

The IHS refund scheme has been launched for those working in the NHS or social care sector.

Workers applying for the Tier 2 Health and Care visa are exempt from paying the IHS however there are thousands of others working within this sector on different visas who have had to make the IHS payment upfront at the time of applying for their visa. They will now be able to claim this back every 6 months.

To be eligible for a refund, you must:

  • hold a visa that gives you a generic right to work e.g. Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, PBS Dependant visa, spousal visa, Student visa (with the right to work up to 20 hours per week during term time);
  • have paid the IHS at the time of applying for your visa;
  • have worked continuously for at least 6 months commencing on or after 31 March 2020;
  • have worked for an average of at least 16 hours per week over the full six month period;
  • have worked in an eligible job which means that you must be:
    • providing a service which is related to the delivery of health or social care; and
    • be employed or engaged by either:
      • a recognised health or care provider (e.g. NHS trusts, national NHS bodies); or
      • an employer which is registered with an appropriate health or social care services regulator to provide health or care services (e.g. care homes or independent sector healthcare providers registered with the CQC); or
      • an employer delivering services that directly support health and social care services (e.g. facilities management services within a hospital, as long as this work is undertaken within a health and care setting).

If the main applicant meets the eligibility criteria, they can also apply for a refund for their dependants.

Applications can be submitted online here.

Holders of a Tier 2 (General) visa who meet the eligibility criteria above can claim for a  reimbursement of the IHS by contacting the Home Office at IHSrefunds@homeoffice.gov.uk rather than through the online scheme.

What supporting documents do I need to provide with my application?

The supporting documents are specific to each applicant but generally the following documents are likely to apply:

RequirementLikely documentation
IDPassport and current BRP (if you have one)
English languageIELTS pass certificate, University degree and UK NARIC certificate
Maintenance fundsBank statements showing at least £945 held for the 90 days before the application unless the sponsor certifies maintenance
Criminal record certificate if working with vulnerable peopleCriminal record certificate from any country (excluding the UK) you have lived in cumulatively or continuously for 12 months or more in the last 10 years whilst aged 18 or over
TB testClear TB test if you are from a country requiring a TB test

Do I need to provide translations of my supporting documents for my visa application?

Yes if any of the documents are not in English or Welsh. There are specific guidelines set by UKVI for the provision of translated documents, please contact us to discuss these.

How long will it take for my application to be considered?

If you are applying from outside the UK, your application should be dealt with within 3 weeks.

If you are applying from inside the UK, your application should be dealt with within 8 weeks.

You can, in certain circumstances, pay an additional fee to use a priority or premium service for a faster decision.

Do I need to leave the UK to apply for a Tier 2 General visa?

Yes – unless you are already in the UK with any of these visas:

  • Tier 1 visa
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa
  • Tier 2 (Minister of religion) visa
  • Tier 2 (Intra company Transfer) visa granted under the rules in place before 6 April 2010 and you are changing sponsor
  • Tier 4 visa or partner of someone with a Tier 4 visa
  • Start-up visa
  • Innovator visa
  • Representative of an overseas business visa

If you do not fall within the above categories, you must make your visa application from overseas.

Can I switch from a Tier 4 Student visa to a Tier 2 General visa?

Yes, so long as:

  • you have obtained an eligible qualification
  • have completed your course of study or are due to complete it within 3 months, or
  • have completed 12 months of a PhD.

Tier 2 Health and Care visa

What is the health and social care visa?

From 4 August 2020, health professionals can apply for the new Health and Care visa.

Although it is billed as a new visa, the Health and Care visa will actually be an addition to the existing Tier 2 (General) visa scheme. Therefore applicants will need to meet all of the Tier 2 (General) criteria as well as additional eligibility criteria to be successful.

This will apply to global health professionals including nurses, midwives, paramedics, dental practitioners, physiotherapists and more.

Applicants must meet the existing Tier 2 General requirements in that they must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship, meet the appropriate skill and salary level for their role, be able to prove their English language ability, have the minimum personal savings, have a valid TB test (if required) and criminal record certificate.

What are the benefits of the new visa?

The application fee for the Health and Care visa is cheaper than the Tier 2 (General) visa at £232 for visas for up to 3 years and £464 for more than 3 years.  The fee is discounted further if the role is on the Shortage Occupation List. In addition, applicants do not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (currently £400 per year). An added benefit is that dependants will also be exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge.  These exemptions would save a family of four nearly £5,000 on a three year visa.

Further, those applying for a Health and Care visa should receive a faster decision than the standard Tier 2 route. The Government has stated that a decision should be granted within three weeks of an applicant giving their biometrics, rather than the standard 8 week processing time under Tier 2.

Who qualifies?

In order to qualify for the visa, applicants must be taking up a job in an eligible role. Although the name of this visa suggests that care assistants and other care home staff would be eligible, this is not the case and these professions have been explicitly excluded. Instead, the visa is for those health professional roles which the Government assesses as being skilled, such as doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists and paramedics. A full list of the eligible roles are provided in the Tier 2 Policy Guidance.

In addition to holding an eligible job, applicants must be taking up a job with the NHS, an NHS provider or one of listed organisations in the Tier 2 Policy guidance. Listed organisations include a Local Authority or Clinical Commissioning Group as well as organisations registered with the Care Quality Commission where the migrant is employed to provide (or to support the provision of) regulated activities as prescribed in Schedule 1 to the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.

How to apply

Applicants will need to apply using the online Tier 2 (General) visa application form but will need to tick a box to confirm that they are applying for the Health and Care visa.

Sponsors employing migrants under this route will need to explain in the Certificate of Sponsorship how the employee is eligible. For example, where a sponsor provides services commissioned by the NHS, proof of this arrangement should be provided to evidence that the Health and Care visa is applicable.

Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer - overview

What is the Tier 2 ICT visa?

This visa is for skilled workers who have been offered a job by their overseas employer at a UK Branch of the organisation.
There are two different types of ICT visa:

  1. Long-term staff – this is for employees of overseas companies coming to work at a branch office in the UK, and
  2. Graduate trainee – this is for transfers onto graduate training programmes in the UK for your employer.

Can I bring my family to the UK with me?

Yes, you can bring certain family members known as “dependants” with you. These are your:

  • spouse or partner
  • children under the age of 18
  • children over 18 who are already in the UK as your dependant.

If you are already in the UK with your dependants and you switch to the Tier 2 ICT visa, they will be able to remain with you. Whether or not they need to apply for new visas will depend on the circumstances and it is recommended that you contact us to discuss this further.

How long can I have a Tier 2 ICT visa for?

This depends on the type of ICT visa you have and your salary:

  • if you have a Long-term staff visa and earn more than £120,000 per year, you can hold this visa for 9 years
  • if you have a Long-term staff visa but earn less than £120,000 per year, you can hold this visa for 5 years and 1 month, and
  • if you have a Graduate trainee visa, you can hold this visa for 12 months.

Can I settle/obtain ILR in the UK with a Tier 2 ICT visa?

No, the Intra-Company Transfer visa is a temporary visa which does not lead to settlement in the UK. If however you currently hold or have previously a Tier 2 ICT Long-term staff visa which was granted under the rules in place before 6 April 2010, time spent in the UK under this visa can count towards the minimum period required to apply for ILR.

Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer - eligibility

Do I have to be sponsored by a UK company for a Tier 2 ICT visa?

Yes, you need a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK company to be able to apply for this visa. The UK company should be a group company of your current employer overseas.

How long do I have to have worked for my employer for to be transferred to the UK under a Tier 2 ICT visa?

For the Graduate trainee visa, you need to have worked for your overseas employer for at least 3 months.

For the Long-term staff visa, you need to have worked for your overseas employer for at least 12 months. This 12 month requirement can be avoided if the role that you will take in the UK pays a salary of £73,900 pa or more.

What is the minimum salary I have to earn for a Tier 2 ICT visa?

For the Graduate trainee visa the minimum salary is £23,000pa and for the Long-term staff visa, it is £41,500pa.

Does my job need to meet a minimum skill level for a Tier 2 General visa?

Yes. Currently, the role that you will be sponsored to do must be at RQF Level 6 or above (equivalent to degree level).

Do I need to provide evidence of maintenance funds?

Yes. You must be able to provide bank statements showing that you have had at least £945 in your bank account for the 90 days immediately before the visa application is submitted. This requirement can be avoided if your sponsor agrees to ‘certify your maintenance’.

Do I need to prove my English language ability?

No, the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa does not require you to evidence your English language ability as part of the application process.

Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer - application process

How do I apply for a Tier 2 ICT visa?

You will be required to complete an online application form, upload copies of your supporting documents and then book and attend an in-person appointment to give your biometric details (fingerprints and photograph).

How much does it cost to apply for a Tier 2 ICT visa?

The fee for the Graduate trainee visa is £482.

The fee for the Long-term staff visa depends on where you are applying from and the duration of your visa:

 Visa for up to 3 yearsVisa for more than 3 years
Switching inside the UK£704£1,408
Applying from outside the UK£610£1,220

You will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for the duration of your visa and pay a fee of £19.20 to enrol your biometric information.

If you are a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia, the fee payable will be slightly lower. Please contact us for further information.

How much is the Immigration Health Surcharge?

This is currently £400 per person, per year of your visa. It is an upfront cost and is due to increase to £624 per year from October 2020. Health and social care workers are exempt from the HIS and refunds are being made to these individuals who made the payment since 31 March 2020.

What supporting documents do I need to provide with my application?

The supporting documents are specific to each applicant but generally the following documents are likely to apply:

RequirementLikely documentation
IDPassport and current BRP (if you have one)
Evidence of employmentPayslips and bank statements
Maintenance fundsBank statements showing at least £945 held for the 90 days before the application unless the sponsor certifies maintenance
Criminal record certificate if working with vulnerable peopleCriminal record certificate from any country (excluding the UK) you have lived in cumulatively or continuously for 12 months or more in the last 10 years whilst aged 18 or over
TB testClear TB test if you are from a country requiring a TB test

Do I need to provide translations of my supporting documents for my visa application?

Yes if any of the documents are not in English or Welsh. There are specific guidelines set by UKVI for the provision of translated documents, please contact us to discuss these.

Can I switch from a Tier 2 ICT visa to a Tier 2 General visa?

No. You would be required to leave the UK at the end of your Tier 2 ICT visa and then wait for a period of 12 months (known as the Tier 2 cooling off period) before you are then able to apply to return to the UK under another Tier 2 visa (either General or ICT).

If however your Tier 2 ICT visa was granted under the rules in place before 6 April 2010, you may be eligible to switch into the Tier 2 General visa route.

To discuss your options for switching visa types, please contact us.

How long will it take for my application to be considered?

If you are applying from outside the UK, your application should be dealt with within 3 weeks.

If you are applying from inside the UK, your application should be dealt with within 8 weeks.

You can, in certain circumstances, pay an additional fee to use a priority or premium service for a faster decision.

Services and pricing

Services and pricing options

We provide a range of services to Tier 2 visa applicants including assistance with their initial application and switching to this visa category. This includes:

  • initial correspondence with you regarding eligibility
  • review of and advice to you on the draft completed application form
  • advice to you on the application process and queries
  • advice on which supporting documents to provide with the application
  • assist with questions about the process or correspondence from the Home Office.

Fee estimate*: £750 – £1,250

*:  Our fees are calculated based on the number of hours it will take us to carry out this work. The exact number of hours it will take depends on the circumstances in your case, such as:

  • the volume of supporting documents and evidence that we need to consider
  • the quality of the draft supporting documents provided by you, the amount of time required to amend these and the number of amended drafts required
  • whether face to face meetings with you are required (if you reside in the UK) and the volume of calls and queries from you
  • the urgency of your application
  • whether you have an adverse immigration or criminal history
  • the need to obtain documentation from or liaise with third parties such as accountants or translation companies
  • whether you are applying alone or with dependants
  • whether you require advice on your current immigration status.

Fees are excluding VAT at the rate of 20%. VAT may or may not be payable on the above fee estimate as this is dependent on the country in which you reside and you will be advised of this before work on your application commences. Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as visa fees payable to the Home Office and document translation fees. These are not included in the above estimates.

Full details can be found in our comprehensive pricing document, which can be found here, or please contact one of our immigration specialists.

Disclaimer

Given the fast pace of change, we would stress that this information is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

As a hub, we have included references to articles and explainers from third parties. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

Our immigration team

Flora Mewies profile image

Flora Mewies

Associate | Employment

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Leeds and Manchester

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Roisin Patton

Partner | Employment

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Newcastle

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Gillian Burns

Associate | Employment

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Newcastle

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Natalie Payne

Solicitor | Employment

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