The Tier 2 skilled worker immigration route offers excellent opportunities to non-EEA citizens to live and work in the UK. UK companies that want to employ overseas workers also benefit, as they acquire the skills of new and existing staff.
Tier 2 applicants have to fulfill certain skill requirements. They also have to have a skilled job offer from a UK employer.
Different Categories of Tier 2 Skilled Workers
There are four different categories.
Tier 2 (General)
This category is for persons coming to the UK with a skilled job offer that cannot be filled by a resident worker. It is also available to applicants coming to the UK to fill a position on the Shortage Occupation List.
There is an annual limit on the number of Certificates of Sponsorship available under Tier 2 (General). Also known as Restricted Certificates of Sponsorships.
There are, however, some Tier 2 (General) applications that are not affected by the annual limit. This includes any vacancy with a guaranteed salary of £159, 600 or higher, applications related to the inward investment provisions, and most in-country switching applications.
Note that migrants switching into the Tier 2 category, who hold visas as the dependents of Tier 4 migrants are subject to the annual limit.
Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
This category is for persons coming to the UK as a Minister of Religion, Missionary or Member of a Religious Order. These persons must in every case take up employment within their faith community in the UK
Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
This category is for elite sportspersons and coaches whose employment will make a significant contribution to UK sport at the highest level.
Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer
This category is for employees of multi-national companies who are transferred to a skilled job in a UK branch of the organisation. Please read the full guidance on Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer route here.
How to qualify as a Tier 2 Skilled Worker
To qualify as a Tier 2 Skilled Worker, an applicant must have a skilled job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship from a licensed UK sponsor.
The Certificate of Sponsorship is a virtual document, with a unique reference number. It contains information about the job for which it has been assigned to, as well as personal details of the applicant.
Applicants need to score at least 70 points to qualify under the criteria for Tier 2. The points will include points related to the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The CoS will be issued to them by the prospective UK employer in regards to a suitable position of employment that qualifies for Tier 2 sponsorship.
Points needed to qualify
You have to score 50 points for Attributes. You can obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship if your circumstances/the position meet(s) certain requirements allowing exemption from the resident labour market test provisions, or on the basis of a resident labour market test having been conducted by the sponsor, or if it is an application for an extension to work in the same occupation for the same employer.
The attributes for the Tier 2 (Sportsperson) and Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) are slightly different. Please speak to your BIC consultant for more information.
The Resident Labour Market Test and Shortage Occupations
The UK Home Office is advised by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) as to which areas of the UK labour market are experiencing shortages. The occupations experiencing shortages of labour are compiled in the Shortage Occupation List.
The implication of an occupation not being on the Shortage Occupation List is that employers are required to advertise the position. Where the employer can demonstrate, after advertising, that there is no suitably qualified resident or EU citizen candidate available to fill the vacancy a Certificate of Sponsorship can be requested from the Home Office and subsequently issued to the non-EU citizen. The purpose of the Resident Labour Market Test is to protect the domestic labour market.
English Language Requirement
You have to score 10 points for the English Language requirement. If you are unable to score 10 points in your respective category, your application will not be successful.
It is possible to fulfill the English Language Requirement in one of the following ways;
- You are a National of a majority English speaking country. Please find the list of English speaking countries here , or;
- Have a degree that was taught or researched in English that is equivalent to a UK Bachelors degree or higher; or
- Passed an English language test at the appropriate level; or
- Have met the requirements with a previous grant of leave; or
- Qualify under transitional arrangements.
Maintenance Funds Requirement
You have to score 10 points for the Maintenance funds requirement. If you cannot score the 10 points, your application will not be successful.
Please speak to your BIC consultant on the current amount needed to prove the maintenance fund requirement. Note also that this amount increases for any dependents accompanying you to the UK.
Criminal Record Certificates
If you are an applicant coming to the UK as a Tier 2 migrant, in order to work in the health, social, and care sectors you have to provide a criminal record certificate as part of your application. Read here for more on this requirement.
Switching to Tier 2 Skilled Worker
It is possible to switch from within the UK to Tier 2 (General), Tier 2 (Sportsperson) and Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) if you have, or had leave as: A Tier 1 migrant, a Tier 2 migrant (though there are restrictions on which Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) migrants may switch), Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) in the Creative and Sports category where the migrant is a professional footballer switching into Tier 2 (Sportsperson), Dependant partner of Tier 4 student, and Representative of an Overseas Business.
It is also possible to switch to The Tier 2 (General) if you are a recent graduate with a Bachelor, Master, Ph.D., PGCE or PGDE from a UK recognised or listed body and currently hold a Tier 4 (General) visa obtained in regards to those studies.
Applicants who hold a Tier 4 visa and are switching into the Tier 2 category having completed a qualifying qualification must have a skilled job offer from a licensed sponsor and be paid at least £20,800 per annum or the minimum appropriate “New Entrant” rate for the occupation. In these circumstances, the employer will not have to complete a resident labour market test (advertising the post), and the job will not be subject to the annual Tier 2 limit.
Spouse and dependents of Tier 2 Skilled Worker
A Tier 2 permit holder can apply for their spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner and dependent children to join them in the UK.
The dependents will receive the same period of leave as the main Tier 2 applicant. They will be able to work without restriction in the UK.
Immigration Health Surcharge
Applicants have to pay the UK Immigration Health Surcharge as part of their application. You can read more about the surcharge here.
Length of stay for Tier 2 Skilled Worker
If you meet the requirements of Tier 2 (General) category, you will receive leave for up to five years. It is possible to extend your total stay for up to six years in this category.
If you are a Tier 4 migrant who is switching into the Tier 2 category and your sponsoring employer wishes to pay you the lower “New Entrant” rate of pay, then this can only be paid for the first three years of employment, after which the higher “Experienced Worker” rate must be paid. Accordingly, migrants in these circumstances may only be able to obtain a three year visa at the outset, after which it would need to be extended, and the higher rate of pay met.
Migrants who do not qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain must leave the UK on expiry of their leave and wait 12 months before applying to return in Tier 2. This ‘cooling off’ period of 12-months will apply to any Tier 2 migrant who leaves the UK.
It is possible to extend the Tier 2 visa to a maximum of six years.
Conditions of Leave under Tier 2 Skilled Worker
You may not own more than 10% of the Sponsor’s shares apart from in limited circumstances.
There is no recourse to Public Funds.
You may study under certain circumstances, provided it does not interfere with your sponsored job.
The Tier 2 worker can take up supplementary, secondary and voluntary work under certain conditions. Read more about extra work at the following link.
Tier 2 Skilled Worker and Indefinite Leave to Remain
At the end of successful completion of a five-year period as Tier 2 Skilled Worker, the holder will qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Note, however, that the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer route does not lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Minimum Earning Threshold Exemptions
You will also have to satisfy the Minimum Income Threshold. You have to earn the minimum annual earning threshold. Or the going rate for the relevant occupation, whichever is the higher.
The minimum earning thresholds for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications are:
£35,000 if you apply for settlement on or after 6 April 2016.
£35,500 if you apply for settlement on or after 6 April 2018.
£35,800 if you apply for settlement on or after 6 April 2019.
£36,200 if you apply for settlement on or after 6 April 2020.
£36,900 if you apply for settlement on or after 6 April 2021.
£37,900 if you apply for settlement on or after 6 April 2022.
Migrants doing jobs which are on the shortage occupation list will be exempted from the pay threshold rules attached to applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain, but still, need to be paid the appropriate rate for their occupation.
“PhD-level’ jobs and Ministers of Religion do not have to meet the pay threshold rule. They do however have to receive an appropriate rate of pay for the occupation.
Please read more about other Indefinite Leave to Remain here.
How to proceed with your Tier 2 Application
We have a dedicated team of Tier 2 Immigration Consultant that is able to assist both employer and employee. Please contact us today to proceed with your application.