UK Tier 2 Visas 2023/24 | Expert UK Immigration Solicitors

tier 2 visa

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Understanding the complexities of UK immigration can be challenging, especially when it comes to specific visa categories like the Tier 2 Visa. In this comprehensive guide, we, at Primus Solicitors, aim to break down the Tier 2 Visa, providing you with essential information to ease your application process.

What is a Tier 2 Visa?

The Tier 2 Visa (General) category is designed for individuals who have received a job offer in the UK and are sponsored by employers authorised by UKVI. This pathway is a fundamental component of the UK immigration system for skilled workers seeking employment opportunities in the United Kingdom.

Tier 2 Visa Types

Purpose

General For individuals offered a skilled job in the UK
Intra-Company Transfer For multinational company transfers
Minister of Religion For those offered a job within a faith community
Sportsperson For elite sportspeople and coaches
These categories highlight the UK’s aim to attract global talent in diverse fields, from business to sports and religion.

Eligibility Criteria for Tier 2 Visa

Meeting the eligibility criteria is crucial for a successful Tier 2 Visa application.

The general requirements include:

  • Job Offer: Applicants must have a job offer from a UK employer with a valid Tier 2 sponsorship license.
  • Certificate of Sponsorship: A certificate issued by the employer, detailing the role and its compliance with the visa requirements.
  • Salary Threshold: The job must pay an appropriate salary, meeting the minimum threshold set by the UK government.
  • Language Proficiency: Proficiency in English is a must, evidenced through approved tests or qualifications.

Each visa type within Tier 2 has additional specific criteria, tailored to the nature of the job and the applicant’s professional background.

The Application Process for Tier 2 Visa

The application process for the Tier 2 Visa is a comprehensive procedure that demands attention to detail at every stage. It’s a journey that begins with securing a job and culminates in obtaining the visa. Let’s explore each step in more depth.

1.Secure a Job Offer

The initial step in the Tier 2 Visa application is obtaining a job offer from a UK employer who holds a valid sponsorship license. This employer must be authorised by the UK government to hire foreign nationals. The job offer should align with the applicant’s skills and qualifications and must meet the appropriate salary threshold as set by the UK immigration rules.

2.Certificate of Sponsorship

Once a job offer is secured, the next critical step is obtaining a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the employer. This is not a physical document but a unique reference number. The CoS confirms that the employer is offering a genuine role and that the applicant is suited for the job. It also indicates that the role fulfils the visa requirements, including salary and skill level.

3.Prepare Necessary Documents

Applicants must gather a range of documents to support their visa application. These include a valid passport, proof of English language proficiency (like IELTS or an equivalent test), and bank statements showing sufficient funds to support themselves in the UK. It’s important to ensure that all documents are current and correctly reflect the applicant’s information.

4.Visa Application

The actual visa application is completed online. Applicants must fill in their details accurately, reflecting the information in their documents and CoS. Any discrepancies can lead to delays or rejections. The application form requires personal information, details about the job offer, and the CoS reference number.

5.Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS Fee)

As part of the application process, applicants are required to pay a healthcare surcharge. This payment grants them access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) during their stay. The surcharge amount varies depending on the visa length.

6.Biometrics and Interview

The final steps involve attending an appointment to provide biometric information (fingerprints and a photograph) and, if necessary, participating in an interview. This stage is critical for verifying the applicant’s identity and confirming the details provided in the application.

Each of these steps must be approached with diligence and thoroughness to ensure a smooth application process and increase the chances of a successful Tier 2 Visa grant.

tier 2 visa infographic

Sponsorship License Requirements

If you’re a UK employer interested in hiring non-EEA nationals through the Tier 2 Visa program, it’s important to obtain a sponsorship license. This license is granted by the UK government and signifies trust and responsibility.

Here’s a breakdown of the key aspects:

Eligibility for Sponsors 

  • Employers must prove their legitimacy and capability to fulfil sponsor duties.
  • This involves showing a genuine need for hiring a foreign worker and demonstrating that the role cannot be filled by a UK resident.
  • Companies must also exhibit financial stability and the ability to support a foreign employee.

Application

  • To get a sponsorship license, employers need to submit an online application along with supporting evidence.
  • Evidence includes financial records to prove the company’s stability and the functionality of HR systems for managing sponsored employees.
  • The application process also incurs a fee and can take several weeks to complete.

Sponsors’ Responsibilities

  • Holding a sponsorship license requires employers to maintain accurate records of their foreign workers.
  • They must report any significant changes to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). This includes changes in the employee’s job status, absences, or if they stop working for the employer.

Compliance With Immigration Rules

  • UKVI conducts regular audits and compliance checks to ensure that sponsors fulfil their obligations.
  • Non-compliance can result in the revocation of the sponsorship license, affecting both the employer and their sponsored employees.

It’s crucial for employers to understand and adhere to these requirements to successfully support their employees’ Tier 2 Visa applications and maintain their status as a licensed sponsor.

Each step in the Tier 2 Visa application and sponsorship process is interlinked, forming a comprehensive framework designed to manage and monitor immigration effectively. For both applicants and employers, understanding these procedures successfully is key to achieving their objectives within the UK’s immigration system.

Tier 2 Visa Fees

The visa fee depends on the type of visa, the length of stay, and whether you are applying from inside or outside the UK.

Visa Type

Fee (Outside UK)

Fee (Inside UK)

General/Sportsperson/Minister £610 – £1,408 £704 – £1,408
Intra-Company Transfer £610 – £1,408 £704 – £1,408
Note: These fees are subject to change and should be verified on the official UK government website.

Tier 2 Visa Processing Time

The standard processing time for Tier 2 Visas is around 3 weeks when applying from outside the UK. Applications made within the UK can take up to 8 weeks. Expedited processing (priority service) may be available for an additional fee.

Duration and Extensions of Tier 2 Visa

Understanding the duration and possibilities for extension of the Tier 2 Visa is crucial for planning your stay in the UK.

Tier 2 Visa Duration

The Tier 2 Visa is typically granted for the length of the employment contract plus 1 month, up to a maximum of 5 years.

T2 Visa Extensions

T2 Visa holders can apply for an extension, but the total stay should not exceed 6 years. The extension application must include:

  • Current employment details and salary.
  • A new certificate of sponsorship if changing employers.

Aspect

Details

Initial Duration Length of contract + 1 month, up to 5 years
Extension Limit Total stay can’t exceed 6 years
Extension Criteria Employment details and sponsorship certificate
Being informed about these aspects ensures a smooth experience during your tenure in the UK.

Working in the UK under Tier 2 Visa

The Tier 2 Visa allows non-EEA nationals to work in the UK but also comes with specific rights and restrictions that are essential to understand.

Employment Rights

  • Work Authorisation: Tier 2 Visa holders are authorised to work for their sponsor in the job described in their visa application.
  • Additional Work: Under certain conditions, visa holders may take up supplementary employment.
  • Salary Expectations: The salary must meet or exceed the threshold as per the visa guidelines and the type of job.

Employment Restrictions

  • Limited Switching of Jobs: To change jobs, Tier 2 Visa holders need a new Certificate of Sponsorship and may have to apply for a new visa.
  • No Access to Public Funds: Visa holders are not entitled to most public funds (benefits).

Rights

Restrictions
Authorised work Limited job switching
Supplementary employment (conditions apply) No access to public benefits
Adherence to these guidelines is crucial to maintain your Tier 2 Visa status.

Tier 2 Visa and Dependents

Tier 2 Visa holders can bring family members to the UK, but there are specific rules to be aware of.

Immigration Rules on Bringing Family Members to the UK

  • Eligible Dependents: Spouses, partners, and children under 18 can join or accompany the visa holder to the UK.
  • Financial Requirement: Visa holders must demonstrate they can support their dependents without accessing public funds.

Rights of Dependents

  • Work and Study: Dependents can work and study in the UK, but some restrictions apply.
  • Access to NHS: Dependents have access to the National Health Service (NHS) but must pay the health surcharge.

Eligibility for T2 Dependents Application

Spouses, partners, and children under 18 are eligible for the Family Visa in the UK.

Financial Support available to T2 Visa Holders

Applicants for this visa must demonstrate that they can financially support their dependents in the UK without relying on public funds or government assistance.

Visa Holder’s Rights

Holders of the Family Visa in the UK have the following rights:

  • The right to work in the UK.
  • The right to study in the UK.
  • Access to healthcare services through the National Health Service (NHS)

Understanding these regulations helps ensure a smooth transition for families relocating to the UK under a Tier 2 Visa.

Switching from Other Visas to Tier 2

For individuals currently in the UK on different visa categories, switching to a Tier 2 Visa is a viable option, subject to certain conditions.

Eligibility for Switching

  • Current Visa Categories: Not all visas are eligible for switching to Tier 2. Common eligible categories include Tier 4 (Student) and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker).
  • Job Offer and Sponsorship: Applicants must have a job offer from a Tier 2 licensed sponsor.

Process and Requirements

  • Application Within the UK: Switching to a Tier 2 Visa must be done within the UK before the current visa expires.
  • Meeting Tier 2 Criteria: Applicants must meet all the standard Tier 2 Visa requirements, including the salary threshold and English language proficiency.

Aspect

Details

Eligible Visas Tier 4, Tier 5, among others
Application Must be done within the UK
Tier 2 Criteria Job offer, sponsorship, salary, language skills
Switching to a Tier 2 Visa requires careful planning and adherence to the specific criteria.

Common Challenges and Solutions in Tier 2 Visa Applications

Applying for a Tier 2 Visa can be challenging, but being aware of common issues can help streamline the application process.

Common Challenges

  • Documentation Errors: Inaccurate or incomplete documentation is a common reason for visa application delays or rejections.
  • Meeting the Salary Threshold: Ensuring the job offer meets the minimum salary requirement can be challenging for some applicants.
  • Navigating the Sponsorship Process: Finding an employer with a valid Tier 2 sponsorship license and understanding their role can be complex.

Solutions and Tips

  • Thorough Documentation: Double-check all documents for accuracy and completeness.
  • Salary Verification: Confirm the job offer meets the Tier 2 salary requirements.
  • Understanding Sponsorship: Research potential employers’ sponsorship capabilities and understand their responsibilities.

Challenges

Solutions

Documentation errors Ensure accuracy and completeness
Salary threshold Verify job offer meets requirements
Sponsorship process Research and understand employer’s role
Addressing these challenges proactively can significantly improve the chances of a successful Tier 2 Visa application.

Conclusion

In this guide, we have explored the intricacies of the UK Tier 2 Visa, aiming to provide you with a clear and informative pathway through the application process. From understanding what a Tier 2 Visa is, to navigating the application process, eligibility criteria, and understanding the impact of Brexit, we’ve covered the essential aspects to help you on your journey to working in the UK.

Remember, while the process may seem daunting, with the right preparation, understanding of the requirements, and Legal Guidance from Expert UK Immigration Solicitors, your goal of obtaining a Tier 2 Visa is possible.

If You Are in Need of Immigration Assistance, Don’t Hesitate to Call to Our Immigration Team!

Key Takeaways Table

Key Aspect

Summary

Tier 2 Visa Types Includes General, Intra-Company Transfer, Minister of Religion, and Sportsperson.
Eligibility Criteria Job offer from a licensed sponsor, salary threshold, language proficiency.
Sponsorship License Necessary for employers to hire Tier 2 Visa workers.
Visa Fees and Processing Time Varies by type and application location; standard processing is around 3 weeks.
Visa Duration and Extension Up to 5 years, with a possibility of extension.
Working Rights and Restrictions Work authorisation for sponsored job, limited access to public funds.
Dependents Spouses, partners, and children under 18 can accompany.
Switching Visas Possible from certain visa categories, with conditions.

Primus’ T2 Visa Frequently Asked Questions – (FAQ’s)

Q: What is the minimum salary requirement for a Tier 2 Visa?

A: To qualify for settlement, a Tier 2 Worker’s annual salary must be a minimum of £26,200 and meet or exceed the going rate specified for the occupation code. However, it’s important to note that as of Spring 2024, this threshold may rise to £38,700, as proposed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Q: Can I bring my family on a Tier 2 Visa?

A: Yes, spouses, partners, and children under 18 can apply as a dependant to join you in the UK.

Q: How long does it take to process a Tier 2 Visa application?

A: Typically, it takes around 3 weeks when applying from outside the UK, and 8 week for applicants in the UK, however these time frames are subject to Home Office Time delays.

Q: Can I switch from a Student Visa to a Tier 2 Visa?

A: Yes, if you meet the eligibility criteria and have a job offer from a licensed sponsor, You can switch form a Student Visa to a T2 Worker Visa.

Q: How has Brexit affected the Tier 2 Visa?

A: Brexit introduced a points-based system, applying the same rules to EU and non-EU citizens.

This concludes our guide on the UK Tier 2 Visa. We hope this information proves invaluable in your journey towards working in the UK. If you have any more questions or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at Primus Solicitors.

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