Tier 2 work visa
A Tier 2 visa lets individuals move to or stay in the UK with a skilled 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.
A Tier 2 visa 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 a 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 will allow 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
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, ie; 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 (General) visa, the applicant will need:
The job offer in the UK from a sponsored employer holds a valid Tier 2 Sponsor License;
The sponsored job is at least graduate level or a specified creative profession and will not displace 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;
Score 70 points under the Points Based System;
Meet the English language and Maintenance requirement.
Genuine vacancy requirement
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.
The prospective employer, will need to undertake a genuine Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), 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 where the job is on the Shortage Occupation List, or if the annual salary is £159,600 or more. Or, if you are switching from a Tier 4 General Student category.
It is important the RLMT is carried out and requirements met assigning a certificate of sponsorship (CoS).
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.
A Tier 2 visa applicant must satisfy the Home Office of their ability to support themselves on arrival in the UK. This can be done by providing proof of personal savings or a maintenance guarantee from their UK licensed sponsor that any maintenance towards accommodation and general living are covered for the first month.
English language requirement
A Tier 2 visa the applicant is required to satisfy the Home Office of their 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 UK government has directed that it intends to end free movement for citizens from the EU, EEA and Switzerland as soon as possible and in doing so is introducing a points-based system similar to that in place for non-EEA migrants.
The UK has planned and put in place by 1 January 2021, after the post-Brexit transition period has come to an end, that all foreign nationals will be required to apply for a visa to be able to lawfully work in the UK.
It is also important to note 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.