If your country or origin is outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and you are looking to work or study in the United Kingdom, then you are subject to immigration control and must first apply for a UK Visa. In order to be granted access to live and/or work in the UK, you will need to acquire the correct visa for your individual circumstances.
There are a number of different visa categories, and the one that you’ll need to apply for will depend upon your current situation as well as the purpose and duration of your stay in the UK. A Tier 2 Visa is usually for skilled workers who are originally from outside of the EEA, who have either been offered a permanent position to work at a company in the UK, or who are being transferred to the UK to work by an overseas business, most commonly a current employer.
The UK Visa eligibility process is calculated on a points based system. To successfully obtain a Tier 2 Visa, you must score a minimum of 70 points, and meet other criteria including being at least 16 years old at the time of your visa application. The UK Tier 2 Visa is usually for skilled workers who earn a minimum salary of £30,000 a year for those classed as ‘experienced’ workers, and £20,800 a year for those who are ‘new entrants’ for junior level or graduate positions. It’s worth noting, however, that after Brexit, there is a possibility that these figures may be reconsidered to include skilled workers in lower income brackets.
In addition to this, you are also required to be offered sponsorship for your intended role by a licensed sponsor in the form of a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ relating to the position you’re being offered. This can be issued by a business or employer who holds a valid UK Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, and should accompany your job offer.
Steps Involved in Making a Tier 2 Visa Application
In order to make a successful Tier 2 Visa application, you must follow the three steps outlined below, which will ensure you have the best chance of your application being accepted. First and foremost, you must acquire a qualifying job offer before progressing on to your visa application.
Step 1 – Sponsorship License
If they don’t already hold a valid Tier 2 Sponsor License, your prospective employer must directly apply to UK Visas and Immigration to obtain one, which shall be assessed accordingly. If they do already hold a valid sponsor license then you can move straight to Step 2.
Step 2 – Certificate of Sponsorship
After a sponsorship license has been approved or in the event that your prospective employer already holds one, they must then apply for a certificate of sponsorship for the position they would like you to fill. Only after the certificate is acquired for your position can you then apply for your Tier 2 Visa, as you will need it as part of the application process to prove you have a position to go to once you arrive in the UK.
Step 3 – Applying for a Tier 2 Visa
As the prospective employee, you will then need to submit a Tier 2 visa application using the unique CoS number that is provided in the certificate of sponsorship. This will need to be submitted alongside relevant proof that all of the remaining Tier 2 Visa requirements are met, including identity documents and your formal job offer.
How much does a Tier 2 Visa cost?
It can take up to 3 weeks after making your visa application to get a decision when you apply from outside of the UK. If your application is accepted, then you will need to pay a fee for your visa to live and work in the UK. The exact amount is linked to how long you would like to stay in the UK for. Once you have been assigned an IAS lawyer, you will be guided through the full visa costs to either apply for a new visa, or to extend your existing Tier 2 Visa.
In order to become a Tier 2 sponsor, you must pay a one time fee of £199 per worker. Employers must also pay an annual sponsorship fee for each individual employee. The fee is £1,000 per migrant worker sponsored under the Tier 2 Visa scheme per year. This comes at a reduced cost of £364 per year for charities and qualifying small businesses.
What are the different types of Tier 2 Visa in the UK?
There are four different subcategories of Tier 2 Visa, which are as follows:
Tiers 2 Visa for Skilled Workers
The UK has a broad spectrum of skilled worker classifications, ranging from healthcare professionals to professional sports players. Whilst there is usually an income requirement associated with a Tier 2 Visa, some sectors in the UK experience continuous skill shortages, so in a bid to combat this, the UK government have made slight adjustments to the legislation.
For example, the NHS continues to face shortages of doctors and nurses. In England alone, there are over 40,000 nursing vacancies, which has prompted legislative action to increase nursing numbers for safe and effective care to continue. In order to reduce these shortages, the government has made a minimum salary exemption for nurses and other skilled workers on Tier 2 visas, making more prospective applicants eligible for this visa category. This also applies to migrant teachers, paramedics and some categories of engineers, as well as a number of other professions. The hope is that these exemptions and reductions in the minimum wage requirement will encourage more overseas professionals to migrate to the UK to live and work specifically in professions where they are most needed to fulfil the mist pressing shortages of skills.
How Long Can a Tier 2 Visa be Issued For?
You can come to the UK with a Tier 2 visa for a maximum of 5 years and 14 days, or the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 1 month, whichever is shorter. You can enter the UK using your Tier 2 Visa up to 14 days before the start date on your certificate of sponsorship.
Applying for a Tier 2 Visa Extension
If you already have a Tier 2 Visa and you would like to remain in the UK after the 5 years are up, you must apply for a visa extension. If you have any dependents on your visa, such as children, siblings or a spouse, then it’s important to ensure that they are also included on your extension application if they are still a dependent.
You will be eligible to apply for a Tier 2 Visa extension if you meet the following criteria:
- You have remained at the same company as when you were previously granted your work visa
- You are still earning an ‘appropriate salary’ (£30,000 or above depending on the industry/experience level)
- You still meet the eligibility requirements
Switching from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 Visa
A Tier 4 Visa, also known as the UK Student Visa is applicable when a non-UK resident receives an offer of a place at a UK university. Many international students choose to live and work in the UK after completing their studies, and so switching from a Tier 4 Visa to a Tier 2 Visa is a common occurrence, and a natural progression in your UK residency status.
Any non-EEA resident must apply to switch from a Tier 4 Study Visa to a Tier 2 Skilled Worker visa in order to continue to reside in the UK after completing their studies. In order to switch visa, you must first complete your course within a Tier 4 sponsor institution and must graduate with one of the following qualifications:
- UK Bachelors degree
- Completed 12 months of PhD
How long does the process take?
The decision time depends on the service that you use. Using the standard service, it can take up to 8 weeks to hear if your application has been approved. Using the priority service will take up to 5 working days and will involve a UKVCAS appointment. There is also an option to use the super priority service, where a decision can be made by the end of the next working day after your UKVCAS appointment, which can be used in the case of emergencies or those needing an urgent decision.
As with any visa application, complications may arise. Switching to a Tier 2 Visa can be more complicated if your supporting documents need to be verified, if you need to attend an interview or if you have an existing criminal conviction in your country of origin, in the UK, or elsewhere in the world. It’s always best to take professional advice when switching visa categories as having any UK visa application rejected, even for something that may seem trivial such as miss-filled paperwork, can cause considerable complications in future visa applications.
How can IAS help you apply for a Tier 2 Visa?
As part of our bespoke application service, you will be assigned a Tier 2 Visa lawyer who suits your needs and the nature of your case. This lawyer will have a vast amount of experience in making successful Tier 2 applications on our clients’ behalf.
After confirming you are eligible for a Tier 2 Work Visa, your appointed lawyer will advise you on how to gather the correct documents for the application and will then file them into a comprehensive application portfolio that’s compatible with the format used by the UK government. They will then submit this to the Home Office along with the completed application documents, and a detailed Letter of Representation. This letter is written by them, pleading your case and its merits directly to UKVI.
IAS will manage the application from start to finish, ensuring it is as thorough as possible to give you the best chance of success. To find out more about the requirements, or to start the Tier 2 Visa application process, call us today on 0333 363 8577. You can also get in touch using our online contact form.