Tier 2 General Visa (UK Work Permit) Requirements and Guidance 2020
This guidance relates to the latest Tier 2 General Visa (aka UK work permit) Requirements 2020 for Skilled General Workers. Accordingly, covers the UK Tier 2 visa requirements for entry clearance and extension (renewal) applications relating to Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), minimum salary, maintenance funds, English language, Home Office Genuineness Test, work permit interview questions, supporting documents checklist, second job, application fee, processing time, priority service and cooling-off period.
Tier 2 General Skilled Worker Visa Requirements
The Tier 2 General visa is for skilled workers (Appendix J) and the shortage occupation list (Appendix K). Since it is a points-based work visa, therefore, to meet the Tier 2 General visa requirements a skilled worker needs to score 70 points i.e. 50 points for attributes [30 points for Certificate of Sponsorship (Cos) and 20 points for the appropriate or Minimum Salary £30,000 (or £20,800)], and 10 points each for English Language (CEFR Level A1 or B1) and Maintenance Funds (£945). However, apart from scoring 70 points, a skilled worker also needs to meet the UK Tier 2 visa requirements of the Home Office Genuineness Test. Please note, for passing the Home Office Genuineness Test, a Tier 2 applicant usually needs to go through the UK visa interview.
Please note, an applicant can apply for a Tier 2 (General) up to 3 months prior to the start work in the UK. The CoS mentions the date on which a migrant can start doing the work in the UK. For instance, if the CoS mentions Jan 2, 2020, as a start date then an applicant can apply for a Tier 2 (General) as early as Oct 3, 2019. Moreover, in 2019, the Tier 2 visa success rate was more than 98%, therefore, chances of getting it are quite high.
An applicant applying for entry or leave to remain as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant must score 50 points for attributes
Tier 2 General Work Visa Points Requirements
|Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)|
- Job offer passes Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) or
- RLMT exemption applies or
- Continuing to work in the same occupation for the same Sponsor
|Appropriate Salary - Minimum £30,000 (or £20,800 for shortage occupation) per year or the appropriate rate for the job as stated in Appendix J, whichever is higher||20|
|English Language - CEFR Level A-1 or B1||10|
|Maintenance Funds - £945||10|
Tier 2 General Work Visa Application Fees
|where a CoS is for 3 years or less||£610|
|where the CoS is for 3 years or more||£1,220|
|where the CoS s for 3 years or less||£464|
|where the CoS is for 3 years or more||£928|
|where the CoS is for 3 years or less||£704|
|where the CoS is for 3 years or more||£1,408|
|Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS)||£400 per year|
|Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)||£19.20|
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2. Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) – 30 Points
Tier 2 General Work Visa Requirements
Indeed, the point-based work visa route enables a UK employer to hire foreign worker to fill a job. However, before hiring a foreign national, a Tier 2 Sponsor needs to conduct resident labour market test (RLMT). Accordingly, the RLMT is for ensuring that a settled worker is not available for the job. Therefore, a foreign worker only gets thirty points for a CoS if:
- a job offer passes the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)
- Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) exemption applies
- in case of a UK Tier 2 visa extension (renewal), the skilled worker continues to work in the same occupation for the same Sponsor
Please note, the certificate of sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic document with a reference number. And the reference number contains the information relating to the job description, foreign national’s personal details, job start and end date, annual salary, maintenance funds etc.
The Tier 2 (General) Annual Limit for entry clearance applications is 20,700. And the Home Office maintains a list of monthly allocations of restricted certificates of sponsorship. However, a Tier 2 sponsor also can assign an unrestricted CoS. Therefore, the actual number of applications usually exceeds the Tier 2 General annual limit. For instance, in 2019, a total of 36,970 applications submitted, 36,983 decisions made, and 36,237 Tier 2 (General) skilled work permits granted. Nevertheless, the Home Office can revoke the licence if a sponsor issue unrestricted instead of restricted CoS. At present, sponsors can issue, an unrestricted CoS for:
- a job listed in the Shortage Occupation List
- a job at PhD level listed in Table 1 of Appendix J
- sponsoring a job with a salary of £159,600 or above
- a job connected with the inward investment provisions
- all in-country applications except for Tier 4 dependant switchers
3. Minimum Salary – 20 Points
Tier 2 General Work Visa Minimum Salary Requirements
Indeed, the Tier 2 General minimum salary requirements for experienced workers is £30,000 per year or the ‘appropriate rate’ – whichever is higher for an entry clearance and extension (renewal applications). However, the Tier 2 General minimum salary requirements for new entrants (having an age under 26 years at the time of application) is £20,800 per year or the ‘appropriate rate’ – whichever is higher for an entry clearance and extension (renewal applications). Indeed, in most of the instances, the appropriate salary rate for restricted jobs is higher than the minimum salary rate for an experienced worker or a new entrant.
Moreover, the Tier 2 visa minimum salary requirements for shortage occupations such as medical radiographers (2217), Nurses (2231), certain Secondary education teaching professionals (2314) and Paramedics (3213), is £20,800 or the actual job rate, whichever is the higher.
Example # 1: UK Tier 2 Visa Requirements for Minimum Salary
As per Appendix J, the appropriate salary rate for an experienced worker or an entrant applying for Tier 2 (General) as Chief Executives and Senior Officials under Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Code 1115 (RQF 6) is £65,100 or £45,600, respectively. Therefore, the UK Tier 2 visa requirements for scoring ten points for an experienced worker or new entrants applying for Tier 2 General visa as Chief Executive and Senior Officials is the appropriate rate (£65,100 or £45,600) and not the minimum salary (£30,000 or £20,800).
Example # 2: UK Tier 2 Visa Requirements for Minimum Salary
As per Appendix J, the appropriate salary rate for an experienced worker or an entrant applying for Tier 2 General work permit as Web design and development professionals under Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Code 2137 (RQF 6) is £25,700 or £19,500, respectively. Therefore, the UK Tier 2 visa requirements for scoring ten points for an experienced worker or new entrants applying for Tier 2 General visa as a Web designer and development professional is the minimum salary (£30,000 or £20,800) and not the appropriate rate (£25,700 or £19,500).
Tier 2 Visa Extension Minimum Salary Requirements
If a migrant is applying for the UK Tier 2 visa extension or a change of employment application and the initial grant of leave was based on a CoS assigned before 24 November 2016 then the applicable min appropriate salary is £20,800 or the actual job rate, whichever is the higher.
4. Maintenance Funds – 10 Points
Tier 2 General Visa Maintenance Funds Requirements
Indeed, the UK Tier 2 visa requirements for maintenance funds for the main applicant and per dependants are £945. However, in certain circumstances, an applicant can claim exemption. For instance, if a fully approved (A-rated) Tier 2 sponsor specifies (in the CoS) that it will provide the maintenance for the skilled worker. And accordingly, the skilled worker will not recourse to public funds.
Nevertheless, an applicant can meet the UK Tier 2 visa requirements for maintenance funds by furnishing a persona bank or building society statements/letter for ninety consecutive days. And the most recent statement or letter must be dated no earlier than 31 days before the application date. Moreover, statements/letter must be on the official letterhead/ stationery. However, Bank Letters showing the balance in the account on a particular day are not acceptable. Indeed, such documents do not show that the funds are for the full period of ninety consecutive days.
Furthermore, if documents are submitted after the Tier 2 visa extension application, then must demonstrate maintenance funds for ninety consecutive days before the application submission date and not 90 days before the date of submitting documents. Indeed, the previously mentioned is applicable regardless of whether an applicant submits documents for Tier 2 visa extension by courier, post or at an application centre.
An applicant applying for entry clearance or leave to remain as a Tier 2 Migrant must score 10 points for Funds
5. English Language – 10 Points
Tier 2 General Visa English Language Requirements (10 Points)
An applicant can meet the UK Tier 2 General visa requirements for English Language if they are nationals of a majority English speaking country, have a degree taught in English (certified by UK NARIC equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree), have passed an English language test (CEFR Level A1 or B1), have met requirement in a previous grant of leave or there are transitional arrangements. However, usually applicants meet the UK Tier 2 visa requirements by passing an approved English language test. Please note: a skilled work needs to demonstrate an English Language CEFR Level B1. However, in certain limited instances, a leave to remain applicant is only required CEFR Level A1.
Furthermore, an applicant does not need to prove the knowledge of English Language if they are a national of 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 and the USA.
Tier 2 Migrant must have 10 points for English language
6. Supporting Documents
Tier 2 General Work Visa Requirements
To meet the UK Tier 2 General visa requirements an applicant needs to furnish the following supporting documents with the application:
- Print out of the Tier 2 General Online Application Form
- a current passport (or other valid travel identification) with a blank page on both sides for affixation of the visa vignette
- certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh
- A valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) – please note there is there is no need of a separate evidence for the appropriate salary as CoS includes these details
- bank statements with a min balance of £945 during the preceding 90 days
- proof of meeting the English requirement such as UKVI IELTS Test result, academic degree with UKNARIC certificate
- Tuberculosis test results
- Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
7. Genuineness Test
Tier 2 General Work Visa Requirements
From 1 October 2013, the Immigration Rules incorporates a Home Office Genuineness Test for tackling abuse of the system. Accordingly, the UK Tier 2 visa requirements relating to Home Office Genuineness Test are that an applicant genuinely intends to undertake the task assigned in the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and is also capable of doing it. Moreover, the applicant will not undertake any other employment except for the job assigned in the CoS. Accordingly, the Home Office Genuineness Test for UK Tier 2 visa considers the following aspects:
- applicant’s knowledge of the role in the UK as a Tier 2 General Visa
- relevant experience of the applicant relating to the skills required to do the job in the UK
- applicant’s knowledge of the UK sponsor
- explanation of the recruitment process
- any other relevant information
How is the Home Office Genuineness Test Conducted?
In fact, for conducting the Home Office Genuineness Test, the immigration office may ask for further information. Accordingly, the immigration office may advice the applicant to provide additional documents or/and attend the Tier 2 visa interview. However, if an applicant fails to provide the requisite information within ten working days, then a Tier 2 visa application is refused 320(8A) or 322(9) on general grounds for refusal. Moreover, if an applicant fails to attend the UK Tier 2 visa interview, then application is refused under Paragraph 320(7D) or 322(10).
Refusal without conducting the Home Office Genuineness Test
In the case of Tier 2 Minister of Religion applications, a refusal without any need of conducting the Home Office Genuineness Test if:
- the sponsor has assigned unusually large numbers of CoS for ministers of religion relative to its size or for the type of the role/work
- there are reasonable grounds to believe the applicant will not be working in the job described on the CoS
- the job description indicates the applicant will only be undertaking non-pastoral duties, which could be done under Tier 2 (General) route
- intelligence suggests that applicants are linked to extremism, terrorism, or trafficking
8. Interview Questions
UK Tier 2 General Work Visa Interview Questions
If the documentary evidence submitted with the application is not conclusive then an immigration office may schedule a Tier 2 visa interview. Accordingly, an applicant needs to attend the Tier 2 visa interview. Indeed, Nevertheless, the purpose of the Tier 2 visa interview to conduct the Home Office genuineness test. And the UK Tier 2 visa requirements for interview, after receiving the email/telephonic call from the Home Office/British Embassy or High Commission, usually relates to:
- confirming the Home Office/British Embassy or High Commission for attending the UK Tier 2 visa interview
- if an applicant has a reasonable reason for not able to attend the UK Tier 2 work permit visa interview, then may request the Home Office/British Embassy or High Commission to rescheduling it
- preparing for the UK visa interview questions for Tier 2 work permit by reviewing application details and other relevant details
- reaching the UKVAC, British Embassy or any other venue 30 min prior to the scheduled time of UK Tier 2 visa interview
- the duration of UK Tier 2 visa interview, which is usually 15–30 mins, but it may last up-to 45 mins
Please note, there is no specific dress code for attending the UK Tier 2 visa interview. However, an applicant should wear some formal business/work dress. Moreover, even if an applicant reaches the UKVAC/British Embassy well before the scheduled time, they may still wait 1-2 hours for the turn. Therefore, an applicant should not lose their patience for any reason and must behave politely and orderly all the time.
UK Tier 2 Visa Interview Questions Checklist
The UK Tier 2 visa requirements for the interview questions usually relates to assessing an applicant’s knowledge, experience, and intentions of doing job in the UK. Since a Tier 2 Sponsor can only hire a foreign worker if a settled worker is not available for the job, therefore, focus of UK visa interview questions for Tier 2 work permit also includes an explanation about the recruitment process. Accordingly, the UK Tier 2 visa (aka work permit) interview questions may usually relate to:
- What are the details of the Job that you (the applicant) are going to do in the UK?
- Can you explain your role as a Tier 2 Worker in the UK?
- What will you do for the employer?
- Are you doing similar work in the home country?
- How have you come to know about the job opening?
- When did you send the CV to the UK Employer?
- When you came to know about your shortlisting? And when you get the interview call?
- Who interviewed you for the job?
- How you came to know about the UK employer?
- For how long you know the UK Employer?
- Are there any family and social connections with the employer?
Tier 2 General Work Visa Requirements
The service standard for UK Tier 2 Visa processing time after biometrics is to decide 90%, 98% and 100% of the applications within 15, 30 and 60 working days, respectively. Accordingly, the UK Tier 2 visa processing time is usually with 3 weeks or 15 days for 90-95% of the applicants. Moreover, applicants can fast track UK Tier 2 visa processing time within five working days by purchasing the £220 priority visa service.
The service standard for UK Tier 2 extension or renewal visa processing time after biometrics is 8 weeks for renewal applications. Moreover, applicants can fast track UK Tier 2 visa processing time for extension (renewal) applications within 5 working days or 24 hours by purchasing the £500 or £800 priority or super-priority service, respectively. Please note, purchasing the priority or super-priority service for fast-tracking UK Tier 2 visa processing time does not influence the decision. In fact, these premium services are only for fast tracking UK Tier 2 visa processing time of straightforward applications.
A Tier 2 (General) migrant can:
- work for the sponsor in the job described in the CoS
- do a second job in certain circumstances; however, can only apply for a second job until the migrant starts working for the sponsor
- do voluntary work
- study if it does not interfere with the sponsored job
- travel abroad and return to the UK
- bring family members to the UK
A job relates to an investment
Indeed, under the route, a migrant is not permitted to own more than 10% of the sponsor’s shares. However, this restriction is not applicable if a migrant earns more than £159,600 a year. Moreover, a Tier 2 (General) skilled worker is not eligible for public funds. And a person cannot apply for Tier 2 General visa if intends to work as a Sportsperson or Minister of Religion.
The UK Tier 2 visa requirements for a job connected with the relocation of a high-value business or a significant new investment project in the UK are:
- the relocation or new investment project involves a new capital expenditure of £27 million or the creation of at least twenty-one new jobs in the UK
- Tier 2 sponsor registered with Companies House no earlier than 3 years before the date the assigned CoS
- the Tier 2 sponsor is the registered branch or owned subsidiary of a business which has its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK
- the job does not involve the supply of services to a third-party client
In certain circumstances a migrant can make a new application if the second job that is not in the same sector or voluntary work. However, a migrant can do a second job on Tier 2 General visa up to 20 hours per week if the job is on the shortage list. Therefore, in most of the instances, the migrant needs a Certificate of Sponsorship from the second employer. However, cannot apply for a second job until the migrant starts working for the first sponsor. And cannot start work for the second sponsor until the Home Office approves the application for the second job.
A migrant need to make a fresh UK Tier 2 visa extension application if:
- the migrant wants to change job and the new job is with a different employer
- job changes to a different SOC code and the migrant is not in a graduate training programme
- the migrant leaves a job that is on the shortage occupation list for a job that is not on the shortage occupation list
Furthermore, in case of a new CoS, a migrant need to meet all other UK Tier 2 visa requirements. However, does not need to provide the documentary evidence if the migrant has already provided the supporting documents in a previous application. If a migrant has valid permission to stay in the UK, then can continue working for the previous sponsor until the start date on the new CoS. However, a migrant cannot start the new job until they receive a biometric residence permit with the new permission.
When does a migrant not need to make a fresh application?
A Tier 2 General migrant does not need to make a fresh extension if they:
- stays in the same job, but Home Office takes the job off the shortage occupation list
- continues with the current employer but the job changes in other ways. For instance, the migrant wants to change to a job in the same SOC code, or the pay of the migrant increases.
Duration of Stay
The maximum duration of Tier 2 General visa is 5 years plus 1 month. However, in practice, the duration is determined by the length of the engagement shown on the CoS plus 14 days either side (i.e. 28 days in total). Moreover, the period of grant usually effects from 14 days prior to the job start date on the CoS. For instance, if the job starts on November 15, 2019, then an applicant gets a visa from Nov 1, 2019. However, if an applicant gets a grant for less than 14 days before the start date of the CoS, then a visa is issued with immediate effect.
Moreover, if an applicant states the intended travel date on visa application form, then usually gets an entry clearance with effect from 7 days before the travel date. However, the travel date cannot be later than 14 days after the start date on the Certificate of Sponsor. Furthermore, a migrant can start work up to 14 days prior to the start date on the certificate of sponsorship. For instance, if the job starts on November 15, 2019, then the migrant can start doing work on November 1, 2019
Is it possible to apply for Tier 2 Visa Extension after 5 years?
In fact, UK Tier 2 visa extension or switching application can be up to 5 years, or the job end date on the CoS plus 14 days or for the period to take the total stay (discounting leave on intra company transfer visa) to 6 years. Therefore, the total length of stay on UK Tier 2 visa extension cannot be more than 6 years. However, there are some extremely limited exceptions to this 6-year restrictions.
In fact, the 6-year period is counted from the date of first grant of entry clearance or leave to remain. However, the 6-year period is not broken by any gaps between the periods of leave. For instance, if a migrant has had 6 years’ continuous leave but overstayed for 10 days at the end of the 6 years before applying for UK Tier 2 visa extension then the 10 days in which the migrant had no leave does not mean the migrant can qualify again. Similarly, if the migrant has overstayed up to 10 days in the middle of a period of continuous leave, this does not mean that the migrant can qualify for another period of leave to take the total stay in the UK as a Tier 2 migrant beyond 6 years.
If an applicant leaves the UK before the expiry of the last period of Tier 2 General visa grant, then the 12-month period starts earlier than the expiry date of leave. However, this can only be possible if an applicant provides evidence such as:
- travel tickets or boarding card stubs. These are only useful if an applicant/sponsor has submitted an SMS report for confirming the end of employment
- exit or entry stamps in the applicant’s passport
- a letter from the overseas employer. The letter needs to confirm the date the applicant started working overseas after returning from the UK
- any other evidence that shows that the applicant was not in the UK
Therefore, if an applicant submits such evidence, then the Home Office calculates the cooling-off period to start from the earliest date. In all cases where the CoS is longer than 3 months, the cooling-off period is applicable. Certainly, even where the length of stay is less than 3 months. For instance, if a migrant has a CoS of 6 months and ceased to work after 2 months, then the cooling-off period is applicable as the CoS was for more than 3 months.
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