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Tier 2

This page contains some general information about working in the UK using a Tier 2 (General) visa.
There are other sub-categories of Tier 2, for example, Tier 2 (Intra-company transfers), Tier 2 (Sportspersons), and Tier 2 (Ministers of Religion) but this page is dedicated to Tier 2 (General).

Who is the Tier 2 (General) route for?

Tier 2 is for skilled workers with a job offer. Tier 2 requires applicants to have been provided with a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) from an employer who is registered on the Tier 2 sponsor register.

Tier 2 requires you to have been awarded your degree before being able to apply (unless you are a PhD student and have completed at least one academic year of your course). You will need to provide evidence to show you meet the points requirement of eligibility under this category (details below). It is important to note that Tier 2 ties you into one job and one employer for the duration of that visas validity. Your employer will act as a sponsor and will therefore have a legal obligation to the Home Office to report on your attendance and compliance under this category.

A Tier 2 visa is normally issued for up to three or five years. Your visa is tied to individual job and employer (Tier 2 sponsor). If your first Tier 2 visa is granted for up to 3 years, you will need to be paid a minimum salary of £20,800 or the minimum set out in the relevant SOC code of Practice. It is possible to extend it to a total of 5 years. After 5 years of being in the UK under Tier 2 (and if you meet the minimum salary of £37,900 at that time), you will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK (provided other conditions are met).

If a Tier 2 visa is issued for 5 years straight away, then you must meet the salary threshold for an 'experienced worker', which, in most cases are far higher than £20,800.

There is a special provision under the Tier 2 General category for applicants who are currently here on a Tier 4 visa and who meet the requirements of this category. This will require applicants to meet the normal criteria for Tier 2 (especially salary requriement, as stated above) but there will be no need for employers to apply the RLMT (Resident Labour Market Test). There will be no limit to the number of students who can apply for Tier 2 (General) under this special provision. In order to do so you must apply for your Tier 2 visa in the UK on or before the expiry date of your Tier 4 visa.

It is possible for you to start work in a full-time permanent vacancy if your your Tier 4 visa was applied for on or after 6 April 2012 and you made a Tier 2 application before your Tier 4 visa expired and you will be employed in the role for which the Certificate of Sponsorship has been issued and you have yet to receive a decision on your Tier 2 application (Immigration Rules- Part 6A, Paragraph 245ZY/245ZW (c) (iii) (7) refers).

When can you start working?

If your Tier 4 visa was issued for the purposes of studying a full-time degree-level course at a recognised body or an institution in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution, you can start work with your Tier 2 employer before receiving a decision on your Tier 2 application if you have successfully completed your course. This allows you to start a full-time permanent job, which is usually not allowed before your Tier 2 leave is granted. You should still discuss this with your Tier 2 sponsor before starting a full-time permanent job. Even if you could start your Tier 2 job before your immigration permission is granted, your employer might not want you to do this as it could lead to problems if your Tier 2 application is not successful. Your employer will let you know when you can start your job.

If you have made your Tier 2 application having completed your course, however still awaiting results that will confirm that you have been passed, you will not be able to start your Tier 2 job until the Home Office grants your Tier 2 immigration permission. As long as you apply before your previous leave expires, you remain subject to the conditions of your previous leave while you wait for a decision. Please check our working during and after studies page.

What if my Tier 4 visa expires before I receive the Tier 2 visa?

If you submit your Tier 2 visa application online and pay the visa application fees before your Tier 4 visa expiry date, you will be covered by something called 3C leave. Section 3C of the 1971 Immigration Act states that the conditions attached to your previous leave will continue to apply if you have applied before the leave expires until a decision is made on your visa application. This means you are not considered an overstayer after your visa expiry date as Section 3C leave essentially extends your Tier 4 visa validity until you receive your Tier 2 visa.

Further Information (Click here)

The Home Office website provides detailed information on this Tier and you should read the Policy Guidance carefully before making an application. Your prospective employer should also be able to provide you with assistance should you require it.