The Tier 2 General visa category is for individuals who have an offer of a skilled job in the UK from a licensed Tier 2 Sponsor. This category includes applicants coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations. You will need to have an offer of employment before applying for a visa.
What are the main eligibility requirements for a Tier 2 General visa?
In order to qualify for a Tier 2 General visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
- You have a job offer in the UK from an employer that holds a Tier 2 Sponsor License;
- The job you are sponsored for is at least graduate level or a specified creative profession;
- 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.
Your Sponsor will need to show that there is no suitable settled worker to fill the role. In most cases, they will need to prove that they have undertaken a genuine ‘Resident Labour Market Test’. This normally means 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 in cases where the job is on the Shortage Occupation List, or if you will be a high earner (annual salary of £159,600 or more). If you are switching from a Tier 4 General Student visa then your employer will usually be exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test.
You will need to be competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0 in reading, writing, listening and speaking) and have enough additional money to support yourself without relying on public funds.
What else do I need to know about the Tier 2 General visa?
If your application for a Tier 2 General visa is approved then your first visa can be valid for a maximum period of 5 years and 14 days, or the time given on your Certificate of Sponsorship plus 1 month, whichever is shorter. Your stay must start no more than 14 days before the start date on your Certificate of Sponsorship.
Your partner and any children under the age of 18 may accompany you as your dependents.
You can apply to extend your stay for up to another 5 years, as long as your total stay is not more than 6 years.
You can settle permanently in the UK after being in the Tier 2 General category for five years, and if you have been in the UK in certain other immigration categories you may be able to combine the time spent to count towards settlement.
If you have held a Tier 2 visa in the last 12 months, you may be subject to a ‘cooling off period’. You will not normally be able to apply to re-enter the UK in this category from overseas during this period.
You can switch into the Tier 2 General immigration category if you are already in the UK under Tier 1, 2, or 4 of the point-based system.