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Tier 2 (General) Visa Applications
The Tier 2 (General) category of the points-based system (PBS) is designed for skilled workers with a job offer to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled employee in the UK. Similar to other areas of the PBS, Tier 2 is an employer-led process.
As specialists in UK immigration law, JMW can offer a full service to clients that includes advice and assistance with their Tier 2 General visa application. We regularly assist human resources teams and employers with this type of visa.
If you would like to know more about the Tier 2 General visa process, get in touch with our expert immigration solicitors by calling 0203 675 7600, or fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.
How JMW Can Help
We are well-positioned to successfully and expeditiously manage Tier 2 (General) visa applications thanks to our connection with the Home Office and visa-issuing posts worldwide, ensuring the swift movement of workers to the UK.
Our experienced team of immigration solicitors will prepare all documentation and liaise with the Home Office regularly to ensure a successful outcome. We can also help employers to ensure they understand the process and have correctly assigned a certificate of sponsorship to any migrant workers.
Assigning a certificate of sponsorship is a crucial part of an application, and it is essential to make sure it is done correctly, with the correct information being provided, otherwise, a case may be refused by the Home Office.
With our office located in the heart of central London, we can assist clients based in the UK as well as those overseas.
Download our Guide to Employing Overseas Workers to find out more about how we can help you with the sponsor licence application process.
Tier 2 (General) Visa Application Process
Before applying under the Tier 2 General category, applicants must have a valid certificate of sponsorship issued by an employer with a Tier 2 sponsor licence. Points are awarded to applicants for:
- A skilled job that meets the minimum salary and skills levels, which has been advertised as part of the resident labour market test (unless an exemption applies). These details will be confirmed on the applicant’s certificate of sponsorship
- English language
The UK government has laid down stringent requirements in relation to these applications, which must be met. Applications must be made via a specified form, including payment of the correct Home Office fees.
We can assist with the assignment of certificates of sponsorship, compliance with the resident labour market test and making Tier 2 entry clearance or leave to remain applications in the UK or abroad.
From 1st January 2021, a new set of immigration rules is due to be implemented by the Home Office as a result of Brexit. Please click here to read more about post-Brexit changes to the immigration rules.
Is my job skilled enough for Tier 2 sponsorship? How do I find out?
Not all jobs are eligible for Tier 2 sponsorship. The current position is that the role must be at RQF 6 (there are a few exceptions to this rule, such as certain creative roles, as well as some jobs that sit on the shortage occupation list). Appendix J of the immigration rules contains a comprehensive list of jobs that are at the requisite level, classified in SOC codes.
Determining your role’s skills level becomes more difficult where the role does not ‘sit’ clearly within a specific SOC code. We can assist in this determination.
From 1st January 2021, the skill level threshold will drop to RQF 3.
What is the minimum salary for this type of visa?
The minimum salary for a Tier 2 (General) applicant must receive is £20,800 (if applying as a new entrant to the workforce) or £30,000 (if applying as an experienced worker), or the minimum level specified by the Home Office for a relevant job as found in the relevant SOC code - whichever is higher.
For roles with a salary above £73,900, an employer will be exempt from advertising this job on the government’s Find a Job service. For roles with salaries above £159,600, an employer will be exempt from completing a resident labour market test for workers (i.e. advertising the position) and can assign an unrestricted certificate to an employee, even when an application is made from outside of the UK.
My sponsoring employer wants to pay part of my salary as a bonus, will this part be assessed as part of the minimum salary?
The Tier 2 guidance document refers to ‘guaranteed bonuses’ as being included as the minimum salary requirement. In reality, most bonuses are not guaranteed and, in these cases, the Home Office will only look at the salary element when awarding points for minimum income.
I haven’t passed an English language test but my degree was taught in English, can I apply?
If you have a UK degree, you can provide this as proof as your English language knowledge. If you have taken your degree that was taught in English in another country, you will either need to apply to UK NARIC to confirm that it is equivalent to a UK degree or pass a relevant English test.
I passed an English language test a couple of years ago, can I use it?
To successfully claim points for English language using an English test, you will need to take an English test that is included on the secure English language test list on the gov.uk website. Note that secured English language tests are valid in these circumstances for two years from the date of award.
Please get in touch for expert advice on meeting the English language requirement.
Can I apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa from within the UK?
There are ‘switching’ rules in place that mean you can only apply in the UK if you are in one of the below categories:
- A Tier 1 migrant
- A Tier 2 migrant
- A representative of an overseas business
- A partner of a Tier 4 migrant
- A start-up migrant, an innovator or a global talent migrant
- Tier 4 (General)
Can I change from a Tier 4 Student visa to a Tier 2 General visa?
If you have completed either your bachelors, masters, postgraduate certificate in education, professional graduate diploma of education or 12 months of study towards a PhD in the UK under your most recent grant of leave as a Tier 4 Student, you would be eligible to apply for your Tier 2 visa from within the UK.
I haven’t completed my degree yet, can I apply from within the UK?
You can only switch from Tier 4 if you have successfully completed, or are three months away from successfully completing your course.
If you have been unable to successfully graduate, you will need to make your Tier 2 application from your country of residence.
Can I get a second job?
You are allowed to get a second job subject to the following restrictions:
- The work must be carried out for no more than 20 hours per week outside of your sponsored job’s normal working hours
- The role itself must be in the same SOC code as your sponsored role or be on the shortage occupation list
Additionally, you are able to engage in voluntary work.
If the second job does not meet the above requirements, you will need to obtain sponsorship in the same way as your primary role.
Do I need to tell the Home Office if I change my job?
Given that you will be sponsored by an employer, if you wish to seek employment elsewhere, your new employer will need to complete a relevant Resident Labour Market test in order to sponsor you, unless an exemption applies. You would also be required to make a fresh application to the Home Office for permission to work for your new employer.
Can family members join a Tier 2 (General) visa migrant as dependants?
If an application is successful, dependents, including children under the age of 18, a husband/wife, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner, can seek permission to join you in the UK or to further remain with you.
Can dependants work while in the UK?
Dependants are allowed to work in the UK; however, they may not be allowed to work as a doctor in training. Children will also be permitted to attend state schools in the UK.
How long does it take the Home Office to process my application?
Processing times vary depending on whether an application is made in the UK or abroad. Applications submitted in the UK under the standard service can take an average of eight weeks to be processed, while priority service can take either five working days or 24 hours from the date of their biometric enrolment appointment.
When making an application overseas, the processing times vary from country to country; however, there may be an option for a five day or 24-hour priority service.
Is it possible to apply for settlement with a Tier 2 (General) visa?
You will need to meet the following six requirements in order to apply for settlement:
- You must currently be in the UK under the Tier 2 category
- You must have continuously resided in the UK for a period of five years
- You must have sufficient ability of the English language, as well as knowledge of life in the UK, unless you are under 18 or over 65 when you apply
- You must obtain confirmation in writing from your employer that you are still needed for the job and you are being paid at the appropriate salary rate
- You must have no unspent convictions within the meaning of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and you must not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal
- You must be receiving a salary above £35,800 or the minimum rate per the relevant SOC code if it higher
If you meet these requirements, you can make an application via a specified form, including the payment of the correct Home Office fees.
Why Choose JMW to Assist with Your Tier 2 (General) Application
We are a top 100 UK law firm with over 500 employees with offices in the City of London, Manchester and Liverpool. We are large enough to have the high professional standards that you would expect from an established law firm while also retaining the client accessibility more typical of smaller firms.
Our immigration solicitors are not only experts in business immigration law but they also specialise in all aspects of Tier 2 of the PBS with substantial experience of Tier 2 applications.