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Tier 2 General Visa (UK Work Permit) Requirements and Guidance

Navigate through the intricacies of the Tier 2 General Visa, the essential pathway for skilled workers aspiring to work in the UK. This guide illuminates the key aspects of the 2020 requirements for both entry clearance and extensions. We delve into vital elements like the Certificate of Sponsorship, minimum salary thresholds, maintenance funds, English proficiency, and the Home Office Genuineness Test. Additionally, we explore interview preparation, document checklists, secondary employment rules, fee structures, processing times, and the cooling-off period. Please note that Tier 2 General has been replaced by Skilled Worker Visa UK.

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Tier 2 General Visa Requirements

1. Eligibility Requirements

Understanding the Tier 2 General Worker Visa UK Requirements

The Tier 2 General Visa is designed for skilled workers listed under Appendix J (skilled occupations) and Appendix K (shortage occupation list) of the UK immigration framework. This points-based work visa requires candidates to achieve a total of 70 points.

Attributes and Points

  1. Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) – 30 Points
    • Job offer passes the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) or
    • RLMT exemption applies or
    • Continuing to work in the same occupation for the same sponsor
  2. Appropriate Salary – 20 Points
    • Minimum £30,000 per year or
    • £20,800 per year for shortage occupation or
    • The appropriate rate for the job as stated in Appendix J, whichever is higher
  3. English Language – 10 Points
    • CEFR Level A-1 or B1
  4. Maintenance Funds – 10 Points
    • £945
  5. Tier 2 General Work Visa Points Requirements
    • Total of 70 points

Additional Considerations

  1. Genuineness Test
    • Besides scoring 70 points, candidates must also pass the Home Office Genuineness Test, which may include a visa interview.
  2. Application Timing
    • Applications can be submitted up to 3 months before the job start date, as indicated on the CoS.
    • For example, if the CoS states January 2, 2020, as the start date, the earliest application date is October 3, 2019.
  3. Success Rate

By meeting these requirements and considerations, applicants can enhance their chances of securing a Tier 2 General Visa and successfully working in the UK.

An applicant applying for entry or leave to remain as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant must score 50 points for attributes

Appendix A

2. Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

A UK employer looking to hire a foreign worker through the Tier 2 route needs to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The CoS is essential for foreign nationals to apply for a work visa and is issued after certain conditions are met.

  1. Role of CoS
    • Essential for UK employers to hire foreign workers.
    • Prerequisite for the Tier 2 visa application.
  2. Conditions for Issuing a CoS
    • Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT): The job offer must pass the RLMT or be exempt.
    • Continuation of Employment: For visa extensions, the applicant must continue in the same job with the same employer.
    • CoS Details: Must include job description, applicant’s details, job duration, salary, and maintenance funds information.
  3. Annual Limit and Allocations
    • Restricted CoS: Annual limit of 20,700.
    • Unrestricted CoS: For specific cases such as shortage occupations or high-salary roles.
  4. Usage Statistics (Example: 2019)
    • Applications: 36,970
    • Decisions: 36,983
    • Visas Granted: 36,237
  5. Revocation of Licence
    • Sponsors may lose their licence if they misuse CoS allocations, such as issuing unrestricted CoS inappropriately.
  6. Key Points for Tier 2 Sponsors
    • Unrestricted CoS can be issued for:
      • Jobs on the Shortage Occupation List.
      • PhD-level roles.
      • Positions with a salary of £159,600 or more.
      • Jobs linked to inward investment.
      • All in-country applications except Tier 4 dependent switchers.

By adhering to these guidelines, UK employers can effectively manage their responsibilities in issuing Certificates of Sponsorship and ensure compliance with immigration regulations.

3. Minimum Salary

For Tier 2 General visas, the minimum salary requirements vary based on the applicant’s experience and job role. Here are the details:

Tier 2 General Minimum Salary Requirements

  1. Experienced Workers
    • Minimum salary: £30,000 per year or the appropriate rate for the job, whichever is higher.
    • Applies to both entry clearance and extension applications.
  2. New Entrants
    • Minimum salary: £20,800 per year or the appropriate rate for the job, whichever is higher.
    • Applies to both initial visa applications and requests for visa extensions.
  3. Shortage Occupations
    • Minimum salary: £20,800 per year or the actual job rate, whichever is higher.
    • Applies to roles like:
      • Medical radiographers
      • Nurses
      • Secondary education teaching professionals
      • Paramedics
  4. Examples
    • Chief Executives and Senior Officials (SOC Code 1115, RQF 6)
      • Experienced Worker Rate: £65,100
      • New Entrant Rate: £45,600
    • Web Design and Development Professionals (SOC Code 2137, RQF 6)
      • Experienced Worker Rate: £25,700 (Minimum £30,000)
      • New Entrant Rate: £19,500 (Minimum £20,800)
  5. Tier 2 Visa Extension (Initial CoS before 24 Nov 2016)
    • Minimum salary: £20,800 per year or the actual job rate, whichever is higher.
    • Applies to extensions or change of employment applications.

By meeting these salary requirements, applicants can ensure compliance with the UK Tier 2 General visa regulations.

4. Maintenance Funds

Applicants for the UK Tier 2 visa must demonstrate sufficient maintenance funds to support themselves and their dependents. The specific requirements are as follows:

Tier 2 General Maintenance Funds Requirements

  1. Maintenance Funds
    • Applicants must have at least £945 for themselves.
    • Additionally, they must have £945 for each dependent accompanying them.
  2. Exemption Criteria
    • Applicants are exempt from showing personal maintenance funds if they have an A-rated Tier 2 sponsor.
    • The sponsor must confirm in the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) that it will provide maintenance for the applicant.
  3. Proof of Funds
    • Applicants must provide personal bank or building society statements or letters.
    • These documents must cover a period of 90 consecutive days.
    • The latest statement or letter must be dated within 31 days of the visa application submission date.
  4. Acceptable Documents
    • Statements or letters must be on official letterhead or stationery from the bank or building society.
  5. Unacceptable Documents
    • Bank letters that only show the balance on a single day are not acceptable as they do not prove that the funds were maintained over the required 90-day period.
  6. Documentation Timing for Extensions
    • For visa extensions, the proof of funds must cover 90 days leading up to the application submission date.
    • This requirement is irrespective of the submission method, whether by courier, post, or at an application centre.

By ensuring these requirements are met, applicants can successfully demonstrate their financial capability to support themselves and their dependents while in the UK under the Tier 2 visa.

An applicant applying for entry clearance or leave to remain as a Tier 2 Migrant must score 10 points for Funds

Appendix C

5. English Language

Applicants for the UK Tier 2 General visa must demonstrate English proficiency through one of the following methods:

Tier 2 General English Language Requirements

  1. Nationality
    • Nationals of majority English-speaking countries are exempt from providing proof of English proficiency. This includes countries such as:
      • Australia
      • Canada
      • USA
      • New Zealand
      • And others listed below under “Exempt Countries”.
  2. Degree Taught in English
    • Applicants can provide proof of a degree that is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, which must be certified by UK NARIC (National Recognition Information Centre).
  3. Approved English Test
  4. Previous UK Leave
    • Applicants who have previously met the English language requirement in a prior grant of leave in the UK are considered to have fulfilled the requirement.
  5. Transitional Arrangements
    • Certain cases may fall under specific transitional arrangements, which will be outlined by the UK immigration authorities.

Exempt Countries

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • 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

By meeting any of these requirements, applicants can demonstrate their English proficiency for the UK Tier 2 General visa.

Tier 2 Migrant must have 10 points for English language

Appendix B

6. Documents Checklist

Applying for the UK Tier 2 General Visa requires a comprehensive set of essential documents. Ensuring all documents are accurate and complete, including any necessary translations, is critical for a successful application.

Required Documents for Tier 2 General Visa UK

  1. Application Form
    • Printout of the completed Tier 2 General Online Application Form.
  2. Passport/Travel ID
    • Current passport or valid travel ID with a blank page on both sides for the visa vignette.
  3. Certified Translations
    • Translation of any non-English or non-Welsh documents into English or Welsh.
  4. Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
    • A valid CoS; no separate proof of salary needed as CoS includes these details.
  5. Bank Statements
    • Demonstration of a minimum balance of £945 maintained during the preceding 90 days.
  6. English Language Proof
    • UKVI IELTS Test result or an academic degree with a UK NARIC certificate.
  7. Health Documents
    • Tuberculosis test results where applicable.
  8. IHS Payment
    • Proof of Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) payment.

By meticulously compiling and verifying these documents, applicants can streamline their Tier 2 General Visa application process and enhance their chances of approval.

7. Fees and Timelines

Application Fees and Processing Time for Tier 2 General Visa

Understanding the application fees and processing time is crucial for planning a successful Tier 2 General Visa application.

Application Type and Fees

  1. Entry Clearance
    • CoS for 3 years or less: £610
    • CoS for more than 3 years: £1,220
  2. Shortage Occupation
    • CoS for 3 years or less: £464
    • CoS for more than 3 years: £928
  3. Extension
    • CoS for 3 years or less: £704
    • CoS for more than 3 years: £1,408
  4. Additional Costs

Tier 2 General Visa UK Processing Time

Standard Processing Time

  • Initial Applications:
    • 90% processed within 15 working days.
    • 98% processed within 30 working days.
    • 100% processed within 60 working days.
    • Typically, 90-95% are processed within 3 weeks.
  • Extension/Renewal Applications:
    • Standard processing time is 8 weeks.

Expedited Processing Options

  1. Priority Service (£500):
    • Processing time within 5 working days.
  2. Super-Priority Service (£1,000):
    • Processing time within 24 hours.
    • Applicable to straightforward applications.
  3. Important Notes
    • Expedited Services: Purchasing the priority or super-priority service for fast-tracking UK Tier 2 visa processing does not influence the decision-making process but is intended only for expediting the processing of straightforward applications.

By being aware of these fees and processing times, applicants can better manage their Tier 2 General Visa application process and ensure timely submission and follow-up.

8. Genuineness Test

Genuineness Test Requirements for Tier 2 General Visa UK

The Home Office Genuineness Test, implemented from 1 October 2013, is a critical part of the Tier 2 General Visa UK application process. It assesses the applicant’s intent and capability to undertake the role specified in the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and ensures adherence to the conditions of the visa. The test evaluates various factors related to the applicant’s qualifications and intentions.

  1. Applicant’s Role Knowledge
    • Understanding of the role in the UK as a Tier 2 General Visa holder.
  2. Relevant Experience
    • Skills and experience relevant to performing the job in the UK.
  3. Knowledge of UK Sponsor
    • Familiarity with the sponsoring employer in the UK.
  4. Recruitment Process
    • Explanation and understanding of the recruitment procedure.
  5. Additional Information
    • Any other relevant information that supports the application.

Conducting the Test

  • Request for Information
    • The immigration office may request further information or documentation.
  • Visa Interview
    • Applicants may be advised to attend a Tier 2 visa interview.
  • Response Time
    • Failure to provide requested information within 10 working days or to attend the interview can lead to application refusal.

Specific Refusals Without Genuineness Test (for Tier 2 Minister of Religion Applications)

  • Large Numbers of CoS Assigned
    • Unusually large numbers of CoS assigned relative to the size or type of role/work by the sponsor.
  • Doubts About Job Role
    • Reasonable grounds to believe the applicant will not work as described on the CoS.
  • Non-Pastoral Duties
    • Job descriptions suggesting non-pastoral duties, suitable for the Tier 2 (General) route.
  • Security Concerns
    • Intelligence linking applicants to extremism, terrorism, or trafficking.

By understanding these requirements and ensuring thorough preparation, applicants can better navigate the Genuineness Test and increase their chances of successfully obtaining a Tier 2 General Visa.

9. Interview Process and Questions

Tier 2 General Visa UK – Interview Process Overview

The Tier 2 General Visa interview is an integral part of the application process, primarily aimed at conducting the Home Office genuineness test. This interview assesses the applicant’s knowledge, experience, and genuine intentions regarding their role in the UK. It’s essential for applicants to be well-prepared, arrive on time, and maintain a professional demeanor throughout the interview.

Interview Preparation and Procedure

  1. Interview Confirmation
    • Confirm attendance promptly after receiving the call or email from the Home Office/British Embassy.
  2. Rescheduling Requests
    • If unable to attend, request rescheduling with a valid reason.
  3. Preparation
    • Review application details and prepare for potential questions about the role and recruitment process.
  4. Arrival Time
    • Arrive at the venue 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time; be prepared for potential waiting times.
  5. Interview Duration
    • Typically, 15-30 minutes but may extend up to 45 minutes.
  6. Dress Code
    • No specific dress code, but formal business attire is recommended.
  7. Behavior
    • Maintain patience and politeness throughout the process.

Tier 2 General Visa UK Interview Questions Checklist

The UK Tier 2 visa interview questions usually relate to assessing an applicant’s knowledge, experience, and intentions of doing the 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, the focus of UK visa interview questions for the Tier 2 work permit also includes an explanation about the recruitment process. Accordingly, the UK Tier 2 visa interview questions may usually relate to:

Question Category and Sample Interview Questions

  1. Job Details
    • What are the details of the job you are going to do in the UK?
  2. Role Explanation
    • Can you explain your role as a Tier 2 Worker in the UK?
    • What will you do for the employer?
  3. Work Experience
    • Are you doing similar work in your home country?
  4. Job Application Process
    • How did you come to know about the job opening?
    • When did you send your CV to the UK Employer?
    • When did you learn about your shortlisting? And when did you get the interview call?
  5. Employer Knowledge
    • Who interviewed you for the job?
    • How did you come to know about the UK employer?
    • For how long have you known the UK Employer?
  6. Personal Connections
    • Are there any family or social connections with the employer?

By thoroughly preparing for these potential questions and understanding the interview procedure, applicants can confidently navigate the Tier 2 General Visa interview and improve their chances of a successful outcome.

10. Guidance Notes

Additional Guidance for Tier 2 (General) Migrants

Understanding the specific regulations and opportunities available under the Tier 2 General Visa is crucial for both compliance and making the most of your stay in the UK. Here are key points to consider:

Permitted Activities

  • Work: Perform the job specified in the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
  • Second Job: Allowed under certain conditions (detailed below).
  • Voluntary Work: Engage in voluntary work without restrictions.
  • Study: Allowed as long as it does not interfere with the sponsored job.
  • Travel: Freedom to travel abroad and return to the UK.
  • Family: Ability to bring family members to the UK.

Investment and Shareholding Limitations

  • Share Ownership: Own no more than 10% of the sponsor’s shares unless earning over £159,600 per year.
  • Public Funds: Not eligible to apply for public funds.
  • Work Restrictions: Cannot apply for work as a Sportsperson or Minister of Religion.

High-Value Business Relocation or New Investment Jobs

  • Capital Expenditure: Required new capital expenditure of £27 million or creation of 21 new UK jobs.
  • Sponsor Registration: Sponsor must be registered with Companies House for at least 3 years before CoS assignment.
  • Business Structure: Sponsor must be a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of a business outside the UK.
  • Job Nature: Job should not involve supplying services to third-party clients.

Rules for a Second Job

  • Hours: Allowed up to 20 hours per week in a different sector or voluntary work.
  • CoS Requirement: Requires a Certificate of Sponsorship from the second employer.
  • Application Process: New application after starting work with the first sponsor; approval needed before starting the second job.

Requirements for a New Tier 2 Visa Extension Application

  • Job/Employer Change: Required for change of jobs or employer.
  • SOC Code Change: Required for change to a different Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code, unless in a graduate training program.
  • Occupation List Change: Required when moving from a shortage occupation list job to a non-list job.

Conditions for Not Requiring a New Tier 2 General Visa Application

  • Same Job/Employer: Staying in the same job with the current employer, even if removed from the shortage occupation list.
  • Role/Salary Changes: Role shift within the same SOC code or salary increase.

Tier 2 General Visa Duration of Stay

  • Maximum Duration: 5 years and 1 month, typically aligning with the CoS period plus an additional 28 days.
  • Start Date: Visa starts 14 days before the CoS job start date.

Applying for Tier 2 Visa Extension After 5 Years

  • Extension Period: Granted for up to 5 years or until the CoS job end date plus 14 days.
  • Maximum Stay: Maximum length of stay, including extensions, is 6 years.

Tier 2 General Visa UK Cooling-off Period

  • Cooling-off Start: Starts from the earliest evidenced date of leaving the UK if earlier than the visa expiry date.
  • Stay Duration: Applies even if the actual UK stay is shorter than the CoS duration (more than 3 months).

By adhering to these guidelines, Tier 2 General migrants can ensure they remain compliant with UK immigration laws while fully benefiting from the opportunities their visa provides.

11. FAQs: Tier 2 General Visa UK

  1. What is a Tier 2 General Visa?

    A Tier 2 General Visa is for skilled workers who have been offered a job in the UK and have a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK employer.

  2. What are the basic requirements for a Tier 2 General Visa?

    Applicants must score 70 points, with points awarded for having a valid Certificate of Sponsorship, an appropriate salary, English language proficiency, and maintenance funds.

  3. How much is the minimum salary requirement?

    The minimum salary is usually £30,000 for experienced workers or the appropriate rate for the job, whichever is higher.

  4. Is there a language requirement for the Tier 2 Visa?

    Yes, applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency, typically at CEFR Level B1.

  5. What are the maintenance fund requirements?

    Applicants must have at least £945 in savings unless their sponsor can cover their costs for the first month.

  6. How long does it take to process a Tier 2 General Visa?

    Standard processing times are 90% within 15 working days, but expedited services are available for an additional fee.

  7. Can I bring my family members on a Tier 2 Visa?

    Yes, dependents can accompany the main applicant, but they must meet certain eligibility criteria.

  8. Can I switch employers while on a Tier 2 Visa?

    Yes, but you must obtain a new Certificate of Sponsorship and apply for a new Tier 2 Visa.

  9. What is the maximum duration for a Tier 2 General Visa?

    The maximum duration is 5 years and 1 month, or the period stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship plus 28 days, whichever is shorter.

  10. How do I qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) on a Tier 2 Visa?

    After 5 years of continuous residence in the UK, you may be eligible for ILR, subject to meeting certain criteria like minimum salary thresholds and not exceeding absence limits.