Immigration Specialists London

Delve into the intricate world of Tier 2 Visa Statistics, offering a detailed analysis of the UK’s skilled migration trends from 2008 to 2017. This comprehensive review tracks the evolution of the Tier 2 Visa, uncovering its achievements and challenges across a decade. From initial applications to final settlements, this examination provides clarity on the Tier 2 application process. It’s an invaluable resource for applicants assessing success rates and for those interested in understanding the nuances of skilled migration to the UK.

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Tier 2 Visa statistics

1. Understanding – The Work Permit Route

The Tier 2 General Visa, inaugurated in November 2008, serves as a crucial gateway for skilled workers from around the globe to contribute their expertise within the UK. It is part of the Points-Based System (PBS) introduced by the UK government to manage the flow of workers entering the country based on their skills and the demand in various sectors.

Transition from Work Permits to Tier 2 General Visa

Before the inception of the Tier 2 route, the primary immigration pathway for overseas workers seeking employment in the UK was through what was known as a work permit. This system provided a less structured, more flexible way for UK companies to hire non-EU nationals, albeit with its unique complexities and challenges.

With the launch of the Tier 2 General Visa, there was a gradual phasing out of the pre-PBS equivalent work visa routes, including the work permit. The transition wasn’t abrupt; rather, it was implemented systematically to ensure a smooth changeover for employers and potential employees alike.

Key Features of the Tier 2 General Visa

  • Introduction Date: November 2008
  • Purpose: To attract skilled workers to the UK
  • Part of: Points-Based System (PBS)
  • Replaced: Pre-PBS work permit system

Benefits of the Tier 2 General Visa

  • Structured System: Offers a more organized approach compared to the previous work permit system.
  • Skill-Based: Ensures that the entry of workers is based on their skills and the demand in various sectors.
  • Employer Sponsorship: Requires UK companies to sponsor the visa applicants, adding a layer of responsibility and validation.

Tier 2 Visa Statistics 2008-2017 at a Glance

  • Entry Clearance Grants: 470,083
  • Extension Grants: 330,826

These figures over the ten-year span from 2008 to 2017 provide a tangible measure of how the UK has continued to attract and retain skilled talent from across the world, highlighting the effectiveness and popularity of the Tier 2 General Visa.


The transition from the work permit system to the Tier 2 General Visa has streamlined the process of hiring skilled workers from abroad, aligning with the UK’s strategic needs. This guide aims to provide a clear understanding of the evolution and impact of the Tier 2 General Visa, equipping employers and potential employees with the necessary insights into the UK’s immigration landscape.

2. Entry Clearance Application Tier 2 Visa Statistics

Understanding the Tier 2 visa landscape is crucial for grasping how skilled workers from outside the UK enter the country. Entry clearance applications are the initial applications made by individuals from outside the UK to enter under the Tier 2 category.

Overview of Entry Clearance Applications (2008-2017)

From 2008 to 2017, there were a total of 488,258 entry clearance applications made under the Tier 2 and pre-PBS equivalent routes. Decisions on these applications resulted in 470,083 entry clearance grants, translating to an impressive average Tier 2 work visa success rate of 96.21% over the ten-year span.

  • Total Applications: 488,258
  • Total Grants: 470,083
  • Success Rate: 96.21%

Yearly Analysis and Trends

It’s noteworthy that the Tier 2 visa success rate was lowest (89.28%) in 2009, a year after the launch of the program. This can be attributed to the unfamiliarity with the new PBS system both on the part of the applicants and the adjudicating officers. However, as the years progressed, stakeholders began to understand the system better, learning from initial mistakes. This led to a gradual but significant increase in the Tier 2 visa success rate.

Annual Tier 2 Visa Decisions (2008-2017)

Below is a yearly breakdown of the number of decisions made each year from 2008 to 2017:

YearTier 2 Visa Decisions
Entry Clearance Application Tier 2 Visa Statistics

The data from 2008 to 2017 highlights the effectiveness of the Tier 2 visa system in attracting skilled talent to the UK. The initial dip in the success rate in 2009 reflects the adjustment period to the new PBS system, but the subsequent years show a marked improvement as applicants and officers became more familiar with the process. This analysis provides valuable insights into the trends and success rates of the Tier 2 visa applications, underscoring its role in the UK’s immigration landscape.

3. Leave to Remain – Tier 2 Visa Statistics

When examining the Tier 2 visa statistics, we mustn’t overlook the numbers related to extensions and leave to remain decisions. These figures give us valuable insights into the experiences of those who are already in the UK and seeking to prolong their stay under the Tier 2 or pre-PBS equivalent categories.

From 2008 to 2017, there were a total of 330,826 Leave to Remain (LTR) decisions made. This figure includes decisions related to extensions of stay, as well as those seeking to switch from another visa category to the Tier 2 visa category.

Out of these decisions, a significant 314,141 extensions were granted, while 16,685 applications were refused. This paints a slightly different picture than that of entry clearance applications, with a 10-year average Tier 2 extension refusal rate of 5.04%. Comparatively, the average Tier 2 visa refusal rate for entry clearance applications stands at 3.34%, indicating that extensions face a slightly higher rate of refusal than initial applications.

This discrepancy can be attributed to various factors, including changes in the applicant’s circumstances, the employer’s status, or stricter scrutiny of extension applications.

Let’s illustrate these Tier 2 Visa Statistics with the following table, which shows the number of LTR decisions made each year from 2008 to 2017:

YearTier 2 Visa LTR Decisions
Tier 2 Visa Statistics 2008-2017 Leave to Remain Decisions

4. Pre-PBS Work Permit and Other Routes

As we explore the progression of the UK’s skilled work visa landscape, it’s important to understand the routes that preceded the Tier 2 visa. The primary one was the Employment with a work permit route, often simply referred to as the “work permit” route. There were also several other categories, including “Other Permit Free Employment Skilled” and “Ministers of Religion/Missionary.”

When the Tier 2 General Visa was launched in November 2008, it marked a shift in the UK’s approach to skilled work immigration. The older routes, including the work permit route, began to phase out and were gradually replaced by the Tier 2 categories.

The trend is evident in the statistics. In 2008, there were 42,092 decisions relating to the work permit route. However, by 2009, the number had dropped dramatically to 7,516. From 2010 onwards, the figures became negligible, highlighting the swift transition to the new Tier 2 system.

Here’s a summary of decisions made under the pre-PBS work permit route:

YearPre-PBS Work Permit Decisions
Pre-PBS Work Permit Decisions

The story was similar for other pre-PBS routes. The Other Permit Free Employment Skilled route, for instance, went from 568 decisions in 2008 to just 2 in 2013. The Ministers of Religion/Missionary route saw a decline from 1,110 decisions in 2008 to none after 2012.

These significant shifts underline the extent to which the Tier 2 visa transformed the UK’s skilled work visa landscape. The introduction of the new system streamlined the immigration process, bringing multiple visa routes under one umbrella and setting the stage for the Tier 2 visa statistics we see today.

5. Settlement (ILR) Grants Tier 2 Visa Statistics

The ultimate goal for many Tier 2 visa holders is obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as settlement. This status grants them the right to live and work in the UK without restrictions, and is often seen as a major milestone towards becoming a full British citizen.

Let’s take a look at the statistics for ILR grants under the Tier 2 visa from 2008 to 2017.

The first thing to note is that there were no ILR grants under the Tier 2 route in 2008, which is understandable considering that the Tier 2 visa system was only launched in November of that year. However, the following year, 425 individuals successfully obtained ILR status, marking the beginning of a steady upward trend.

By 2010, the number of ILR grants had risen to 2,829, and this figure continued to grow in the following years, reaching a peak of 9,266 in 2015.

Here’s a summary of ILR grants under the Tier 2 visa system from 2008 to 2017:

YearTier 2 ILR Grants
Tier 2 ILR Grants

6. Final Thoughts: Tier 2 Visa Statistics

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post, from the introduction of the Tier 2 General Visa system in 2008 to the detailed statistics of entry clearance applications, extensions, and settlement grants up to 2017. Let’s summarize our key findings and draw some insights from these data.

Firstly, the Tier 2 visa system and its predecessor, the work permit route, have played an instrumental role in facilitating skilled immigration to the UK. Over the period from 2008 to 2017, there were 470,083 entry clearance grants and 330,826 extension grants under the Tier 2 and pre-PBS equivalent categories. This demonstrates the significant demand for skilled work opportunities in the UK from overseas talents.

Secondly, the statistics show an overall positive trend in the Tier 2 visa success rate, which indicates a better understanding of the process by applicants and stakeholders over the years. This also points towards the UK’s commitment to attract skilled workers to meet its labour market needs.

Thirdly, the figures for Leave to Remain applications and settlement grants highlight the potential of the Tier 2 visa as a pathway to permanent residence and even citizenship. With over 44,972 settlement grants awarded from 2008-2017, it’s clear that many skilled workers see the UK as a long-term destination.

Looking to the future, these insights underscore the relevance of the Tier 2 visa program as a vital mechanism for skilled migration to the UK. For potential applicants and sponsors, understanding these trends can provide a valuable context for navigating the immigration process.

However, remember that immigration rules and processes can change over time. It’s important to stay updated and consult with immigration experts or legal advisors when considering your options.

We hope this post has provided you with a comprehensive overview of the Tier 2 visa program and its significance in the UK’s immigration landscape. We believe that with the right knowledge and preparation, your journey towards working in the UK can be a successful one.

In the end, these statistics are not just numbers – they represent individual stories of ambition, resilience, and the pursuit of dreams. If you’re aspiring to be part of this narrative, we wish you all the best in your application process!

7. FAQs on Tier 2 Visa Statistics 2008-2017

  1. Why was there a low success rate for the Tier 2 visa in 2009?

    The Tier 2 General Visa was introduced in 2008, replacing the pre-PBS work permit route. In 2009, the new system was still in its early stages, and applicants, sponsors, and even immigration officials were adjusting to the new process. This could explain the relatively low success rate that year. Over time, as all parties became more familiar with the system, the success rate increased.

  2. Why is the refusal rate higher for extensions than for entry clearance applications?

    The reasons for this could vary. Some applicants might not meet the criteria for an extension, such as demonstrating ongoing employment with their sponsor, maintaining the required salary level, or passing the English language requirement. It’s also possible that some applicants might have violated the terms of their original visa, which could lead to a refusal when applying for an extension.

  3. What does the decline in decisions related to pre-PBS work permits mean?

    Since the introduction of the Tier 2 visa system in 2008, the pre-PBS work permit has been phased out. The declining number of decisions related to work permits simply reflects the transition from the old system to the new one.

  4. What can we infer from the increasing number of settlement (ILR) grants?

    The rising number of settlement grants suggests that more Tier 2 visa holders are choosing to settle in the UK permanently. This could be indicative of successful integration into UK society and the attractiveness of the UK as a long-term destination for skilled migrants.

  5. Are these Tier 2 Visa statistics a good predictor of future trends?

    While these Tier 2 visa statistics provide useful insights into past trends, immigration patterns can change due to a variety of factors, including changes in immigration policy, economic conditions, and global events. Therefore, while these statistics are useful, they should not be used as the sole predictor of future trends.