If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA), you will need a visa to work in the UK. If you want to work in the UK you might be able to apply for a work visa. Tier 2 visas are work visas specifically designed for skilled workers. We regularly obtain work visas and extensions for people with job offers in the UK, or those wanting to change employers, as well as for businesses who recruit skilled workers from abroad. We also support employers with their ongoing duties regarding foreign workers, and have a track record of solving problematic situations.
How to obtain a Tier 2 visa
- Tier 2 skilled worker categories;
- Tier 2 visa application process;
- Visa extension application;
- Indefinite leave to remain; and
- How to Challenge a Tier 2 visa refusal.
Tier 2 skilled worker categories
Tier 2 visas are for non-European Economic Area (EEA) employees to fill a post that cannot be filled by a British or EEA worker. There are four sub-categories which employees can apply under:
- General- this category is for skilled workers and covers a broad range of sectors. To be eligible, your skills must be of a certain level and will typically cover senior employees. The UK authorities provide a list of roles at the appropriate skills level, which is updated according to the needs of the market;
- Tier 2 Intra company transfer- is for employees of multinational firms who are being transferred to the UK branch for training purposes or to fill a vacancy;
- Sportsperson- is for internationally established sportspeople who will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport in the UK;
- Minister of Religion – is for ministers of religion coming to the UK to undertake preaching and pastoral work.
Each Tier 2 visa category requires foreign nationals to satisfy different requirements. Many clients use us to assess their eligibility.
Our consultations start at £500.00 plus VAT. We can either meet, or assess your eligibility by phone. At the end of the meeting, we will tell you if or how you can satisfy the requirements.
Tier 2 visa application process
To apply for the visa, an employee needs:
- A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the employer;
- A job offer for an appropriate role with an appropriate salary;
- Proof of English language proficiency;
- Proof of maintenance; and
- In some circumstances, a Tuberculosis test result and/or criminal record certificate.
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
The CoS can only be issued by an employer who has a sponsor licence. Before issuing the CoS, the employer must normally conduct the resident labour market test (RLMT). So, in the early stages of the application, the applicant cannot do much until the employer has followed the correct procedures. The CoS is not a paper certificate but a reference number generated by the employer’s sponsor management system which the employee needs to reference in their visa application.
Resident Labour Market Test
This involves advertising the job in the UK and/or the EEA in two specified sources, for at least 28 days. This is to give British and EEA nationals a chance to apply for the job. An employer is only allowed to offer the job to a non-EEA national if no other applicant has the necessary skills and experience asked for.
You do not have to advertise the job if:
- An employee is extending their visa whilst continuing to work in the same role for the same employer; or
- The role is for an occupation which the UK authorities classified as a ‘shortage occupation’. This list is published on the Government website and updated regularly; or
- The applicant is switching from other specific visa categories, namely the Tier 1 Post-Study Work and Graduate Entrepreneur or Tier 4 Student in certain circumstances; or
- The role attracts a salary of over £159,600.
The benefit of not having to advertise if you have already identified a candidate, is that it saves time and resources because the employer does not have to wait 28 days until the job offer can be made and consequently does not have to interview other candidates. It is also beneficial for the employee because it minimises the chance of losing the role to an EEA national who would have to be prioritised.
If you do not have a sponsor licence but have already identified a non-EEA candidate who you wish to recruit, then you need to get a sponsor licence.
If the business already has a sponsor licence, then it can make a formal job-offer to an applicant and apply to the UK authorities for the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), as soon as the Resident labour market test has been completed.
Submitting the application
Once the employer has done the RLMT (if necessary), offered you the job and issued you a CoS, you can apply to the UK authorities for your visa. If you are abroad you will have to submit the application online and then attend a Visa Application Centre to have your photo and fingerprints taken.
If you are already in the UK on another visa then you may be able to apply in-country, depending on the visa you are on. This is called as ‘switching’ as you are switching from one visa route to another. The UK authorities do not allow switching between certain visa routes. If you are not allowed to switch, you will have to go to your home-country and make the application from there, otherwise your application will be refused.
How we can assist
We will guide you through the whole process from instruction to submission of the application. We will fill in all forms, correspond with the UK authorities on your behalf and draft representations explaining how you meet the requirements, We will also prove that your employer followed all the relevant procedures in assigning your CoS and that you should therefore be granted entry clearance to the UK.
Tier 2 priority service
If you are applying from inside the UK to switch to or extend your Tier 2 visa, you may be able to get a decision on your application within 10 working days. There is s supplementary fee for this service and you have to get one of the 60 slot available each day.
Visa premium service centre appointment
If you are applying to extend your visa or if you are applying for indefinite leave to remain, then you may be able to attend an a premium appointment in person and get a decision on your application on the same day,
We can make the arrangements necessary to get your application dealt with under the priority or premium service.
Duration of your visa
A successful Tier 2 General visa application grants you a visa for a maximum of 5 years and 14 days, or for the length of your proposed employment, if shorter than 5 years and 14 days. In other words, you will be given a visa for the length stated in your employment contract, up to a maximum of 5 years and 14 days.
Visa extension application
You can extend your Tier 2 visa for up to another 5 years, as long as your total stay is not longer than 6 years. To be eligible for an extension you must:
- Apply from inside the UK;
- Apply before your current Tier 2 visa expires;
- Have the same job as when you were issued your previous Tier 2 visa;
- Still be working for the employer who assigned your CoS;
- Still be earning an appropriate salary.
You can include dependants in your extension application. You can also add dependants who turned 18 during your previous stay.
Changing employer or job role
You must make a change of employment application if you wish to change employer. You must have a new CoS from your new sponsor and you must meet all the other requirements again.
You must also make a change of employment application if you are remaining with the same employer but there is a change to the core duties in your role.
Indefinite leave to remain in the UK
You can apply for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years of continuous residence in the UK on a Tier 2 visa, provided that you meet the specific Tier 2 criteria for settlement. You might also be able to combine time spent in the UK on other specific visas.
To be eligible for indefinite leave to remain as a Tier 2 migrant you must still be needed by your sponsor in the same role stated on your CoS for the foreseeable future.
You must also be earning either at least the appropriate rate for your particular job or the general minimum salary requirement, whichever is higher. The minimum salary requirement is £35,500 from 6 April 2018. If you do not meet one or more of the requirements, you might not obtain indefinite leave to remain. You can then re-apply for a Tier 2 visa after a 12 month ‘cooling off’ period.
In some circumstances the minimum salary requirement and cooling-off period do not apply; we will advise you if these circumstances apply to you.
How to Challenge a Tier 2 visa refusal
If your application is refused, you cannot appeal against this decision. You can apply for an administrative review of the decision, if you think the Home Office has made an error in considering your application. You cannot submit further documents at this stage. The only other option would be to apply for judicial review.
We can advise you in the merits and will always give you an honest and realistic view.