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Tier 2 General Visas

You can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa if:

  • you’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland

Getting sponsored

You need to be employed by a licensed sponsor to apply to live in the UK.

Your sponsor checks that you can do the job they’re hiring you for and if it qualifies you for a visa. They’ll assign you a certificate of sponsorship to prove this.

They must also give you other information you need when you apply, for example how much you’ll be paid.

Speak to our assessment team now to confirm your eligibility and options for free on 0203 384 4389.

Further Information

How long it will take

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you’re due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship.

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.

How long you can stay

You can come to the UK with a Tier 2 (General) 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 start your stay up to 14 days before the start date on your certificate of sponsorship.

Example:

Your start date is 15 July – the earliest you can start your stay is 1 July.

You can apply to extend this visa for up to another 5 years, as long as your total stay is not more than 6 years.

What you can and can't do

You can:

  • work for your sponsor in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship
  • do a second job in certain circumstances
  • do voluntary work
  • study as long as it doesn’t interfere with the job you’re sponsored for
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • bring family members with you

You can’t:

  • own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares (unless you earn more than £159,600 a year)
  • get public funds
  • apply for a second job until you’ve started working for your sponsor

Eligibility

You need to:

  • have a valid certificate of sponsorship for your job
  • show you’re being paid an appropriate salary for your job
  • prove your knowledge of English
  • have personal savings so you can support yourself when you arrive in the UK
  • show you can travel and your travel history over the last 5 years
  • have tuberculosis test results if you’re from a listed country
  • provide a criminal record certificate from any country you’ve lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years, if you’ll be working with vulnerable people

You need to have an eligible qualification if you’re switching from a Tier 4 visa.

Certificate of sponsorship

A certificate of sponsorship holds your personal details and information about the job you’ve been offered. It’s an electronic record, not a paper document. Your sponsor will give you a certificate of sponsorship reference number to add to your application.

You can only use your certificate of sponsorship reference number once. You must use it 3 months after getting it.

Appropriate salary

You’ll usually need to be paid at least £30,000 per year or the ‘appropriate rate’ for the job you’re offered – whichever is higher.

Check the guidance for situations when you can be paid less – for example if:

  • you’ll work as a medical radiographer, nurse, paramedic or secondary school teacher in some subjects
  • you’ll work as a pre-registration nurse or midwife

Personal savings

You must have £945 in your bank account for 90 days before you apply. This is to prove you can support yourself.

You don’t need to prove this if you have afully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor who can give you at least £945 to cover your costs for a month if you need it. Your sponsor must confirm this on the certificate of sponsorship.

Knowledge Of English

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

  • passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD

You may be able to meet the English language requirement in other ways or need a higher level of English in some circumstances. Check the full visa guidance for detailed information.

Exceptions

You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

You also may not have to prove your knowledge of English in other circumstances – check the visa guidance.

Documents you must provide

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • your certificate of sponsorship reference number
  • proof of your knowledge of English
  • a bank or building society statement or letter that shows you have enough personal savings (unless your certificate of sponsorship shows your sponsor can support you)
  • a current passport or travel document to prove you can travel – you need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa
  • expired passports or travel documents if you need them to show your travel history
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a listed country
  • a criminal record certificate – if you’re working with vulnerable people

You must provide the original plus a photocopy of every document you provide.

If your documents aren’t in English or Welsh you’ll also need to send a certified translation.

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

Criminal record certificate

You’ll need to provide a criminal record certificate if you work in:

  • education, for example teachers, education advisers and school inspectors
  • healthcare, for example nurses, doctors, managers, pharmacists, dentists, ophthalmic opticians
  • therapy, for example psychologists, speech and language therapists
  • social services, for example social workers, managers, probation officers

You’ll need a certificate from any country you’ve stayed in for a total of 12 months or more over the last 10 years.

Extend your visa

You may be able to apply to extend your stay in the UK under a Tier 2 (General) visa.

You should include any dependants who are on your current visa on your application to extend. This includes children who have turned 18 during your stay. They’ll also need to submit a separate application.

You should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility

You must have current permission to enter or stay on a Tier 2 (General) visa.

You must also meet the following conditions:

  • you have the same job as when you were issued your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK
  • you’re still working for the employer who assigned your certificate of sponsorship
  • you’re still earning an ‘appropriate salary’ – read the guidance if you’re not sure

You must be in the UK to extend your visa.

How long you can stay

You can apply to extend your visa for up to another 5 years, as long as your total stay is not more than 6 years.

How long it takes

Decisions are made:

  • within 8 weeks for online applications
  • within 10 days if you’re able to use the Tier 2 priority application service
  • usually on the same day if you use the premium service

You’ll be contacted if your circumstances or application are more complicated, for example if:

  • your supporting documents need to be verified
  • you need to attend an interview
  • you have a criminal conviction

Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.

If you change your job

You may need to make a new Tier 2 (General) visa application if:

  • you want to change your job and your new job is with a different employer
  • your job changes to a different standard occupation classification (SOC) code, and you’re not in a graduate training programme
  • you leave a job that’s on the shortage occupation list for a job that isn’t on the list

You don’t need to apply again if you stay in the same job, but your job is taken off the shortage occupation list

You won’t need to make a new application if you’ll be staying with your current employer but your job will change in other ways, for example you want to change to a job in the same SOC code, or your pay will increase.

You must have a new certificate of sponsorship and you must meet all other application conditions, but you won’t need to send evidence in support of your application if you’ve sent it for a previous Tier 2 application.

You can continue working for your previous sponsor until the start date on your new certificate of sponsorship if your current permission to stay is still valid.

You should not start your new job until you’ve received your biometric residence permit with your new permission.

Family Members

Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa. Your family members must have a visa if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:

  • your husband, wife or partner
  • your child under 18
  • your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant

Personal savings

You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.

Each dependant must have £630 available to them whether they apply with you or separately. This is in addition to the £945 you must have to support yourself.

You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.

Example:

You must have £2,205 if you want to bring your partner and one child with you to the UK (£945 to support yourself plus £630 for your partner and £630 for your child).

You won’t need evidence of your savings if you have a:

  • fully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor
  • certificate of sponsorship stating that your sponsor will give each of your dependants at least £630 to cover their costs for a month if they need it

Children born while you’re in the UK

If you have children while you’re in the UK, you can apply for permission for them to stay.

You must do this if you want to travel in and out of the UK with your child.

When you apply you must send a full UK birth certificate showing the names of both of your child’s parents.

Taking a second job

You can take a second job on this visa if you’re working up to 20 hours a week in either:

  • the same profession as your main job and at the same level
  • a profession on the shortage occupation list

You can also do unpaid voluntary work.

Otherwise, you’ll need to apply for a new visa. You’ll need to be sponsored by your second employer and get a new certificate of sponsorship.

When to apply for a new visa

You can’t apply for a new visa until you’ve started work with your first sponsor.

You can’t start work with your second sponsor until your visa application has been approved.

Documents you must provide

You’ll need to provide some documents with your application.

You must also include a letter with your application explaining that you want to change your current permission to stay.

Your letter must state:

  • your name
  • your date of birth
  • your current certificate of sponsorship reference number
  • the date when your current permission to stay runs out

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