Tier 2 Visa Statistics 2008-17: A Guide to UK Work Visa Refusal Rate

This relates to Tier 2 Visa Statistics for entry clearance, extension, and settlement grants from 2008-17. And the immigration statistics relating to pre-PBS equivalent Tier 2 work visa statistics. Accordingly, provides the details of Tier 2 and pre-PBS UK work visa success and refusal rate.

1. Overview 2. Entry Clearance 3. Leave to Remain 4.ILR (Settlement)

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1. Overview

Tier 2 and Pre-PBS Visa Statistics 2008-17

Tier 2 General Visa for sponsored skilled workers launched in November 2008. And gradually replaced its pre-PBS equivalent work visa routes such as work permit. During 2008-17 a total of 470,083 entry clearance and 330,826 extension grants have been made under the different Tier 2 & pre-PBS equivalent sub-categories. The 10-year average Tier 2 work visa success and refusal rate are 96.21% and 3.34%, respectively.

2. Entry Clearance

Tier 2 Visa Statistics 2018-17

During 2008-17, a total of 488,258 entry clearance applications submitted for Tier 2 & pre-PBS equivalent. Accordingly, 488,576 decisions made, and 470,083 entry clearance applicants get Tier 2 & pre-PBS equivalent visa. Apparently and quite understandably the Tier 2 visa success rate was lowest (89.28%) in 2009. However, subsequently, the applicants and all the other stakeholders gradually learnt from their mistakes, which is the major reason for the rise in the Tier 2 visa success rate.

Tier 2 Visa Refusal Rate

From 2008 to 2017, a total of 16,297 Tier 2 and pre-PBS equivalent entry clearance applications refused. And 1,734 applications withdrawn and 462 lapsed. The Tier 2 visa refusal rate was highest in 2009 (9.66%) and lowest (1.72%) in 2013. Moreover, the Tier 2 visa refusal rate in recent years hovers in the range of 2%, which is quite encouraging for the prospective applicants.

Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa Success Rate 2008-17

YearDecisionsSuccess Rate
200858,26095.84%
200940,64689.28%
201043,13292.56%
201139,78795.73%
201240,17597.50%
201346,53898.06%
201453,62297.84%
201555,55997.85%
201656,18297.73%
201754,67597.68%
Total488,57696.21%
Tier 2 Visa Statistics

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3. Leave to Remain (Extension and Switching)

Tier 2 Visa Statistics 2008-17

During 2008-17, a total of 330,826 extensions and leave to remain decisions made under Tier 2 & pre-PBS equivalent routes. And 314,141 extensions granted, and 16,685 applications refused under the Tier 2 & pre-PBS equivalent. Moreover, 10 years average Tier 2 extension refusal rate is 5.04%. Therefore, the 10 years average Tier 2 visa refusal rate for entry clearance applications (3.34%) is lower than that for extensions (5%).

Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa Extension Refusal Rate 2008-17

YearDecisionsRefusal Rate
200843,8253.10%
200930,3368.19%
201023,1458.11%
201119,5666.96%
201230,8414.27%
201339,0563.58%
201436,8264.24%
201535,3856.22%
201636,7294.75%
201735,1173.94%
Total330,8265.04%

Work Permit

Perhaps, prior to the inception of the PBS Tier 2 route, the major immigration route for doing work in the UK was Employment with a work permit. Accordingly, ever since November 2008 the number of extension decisions and grants relating to work permit fell quite drastically. Therefore, after 2009 the number of decisions relating to work permit is only an exceedingly small fraction of the total extension grants under Tier 2 and pre-PBS equivalent. However, most of the people still refer to Tier 2 as work permit visa, which speaks for the popularity of the work permit route prior to November 2008.

Pre-PBS UK Work Permit Refusal Rate

YearDecisionsRefusal Rate
200842,0922.85%
20097,5163.05%
20108452.38%
20111752.94%
2012825.00%
201320.00%
20145100.00%
2015250.00%
20160N/A
20170N/A
Total49,7263.00%

Other Permit Free Employment

Other Permit Free Employment Skilled is also a pre-PBS equivalent route for high skilled employment. Therefore, like the work permit route, the number of extensions under this route fell after 2008 and the last extension granted under the route was in 2011.

Pre-PBS Other Permit Free Employment Refusal Rate

YearDecisionsRefusal Rate
200856827.11%
200917242.44%
20102152.38%
2011450.00%
20121100.00%
20132100.00%
Total76831.64%

Ministers of Religion

Since 2008, the Tier 2 Ministers of Religion has gradually replaced the pre-pbs equivalent category of Ministers of Religion/Missionary. Accordingly, after 2008 and 2009, the number of decisions is negligible. And no decision made after 2012 in this pre-pbs category.

Pre-PBS Ministers of Religion Visa Refusal Rate

YearDecisionsRefusal Rate
20081,1100.00%
20093372.08%
2010150.00%
20110N/A
201220.00%
Total1,4640.48%

4. ILR (Settlement)

Tier 2 Visa Statistics 2008-17

During 2008-2017 a total of 44,972 migrants have been granted settlement (ILR) under the Tier 2 route. The Tier 2 settlement grants have gradually supplanted the settlements under pre-PBS work permit route.

ILR Grants under Work Permit and Tier 2 Routes 2008-17

YearWork PermitPBS Tier 2
200823,2720
200925,425425
201023,0532,829
201115,0564,182
20129,4314,292
20136,9855,167
20141,3075,938
20151919,266
2016915,727
20171077,146
Total104,91844,972