Tier 2 Immigration

1. What is a Tier 2 visa?

A Tier 2 (general) visa allows a person from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to  work in the UK for a maximum of five years, if they have been offered a skilled job. That  person is required to have a licensed sponsor, who needs to provide a certificate of  sponsorship as part of the application process. The work that the applicant undertakes in the  UK must relate in some way to the sponsorship organisation.

2. How to apply for a Tier 2 visa

An application for a Tier 2 visa can be made online on www.gov.uk and can only be made three months before you start work in the UK. Fees for the application vary depending on where you are applying from and who it is for (applications can be done for dependents  also). These fees are cheaper if you are applying to work in a ‘shortage occupation’ ie. you are working in the UK because there is a shortage of skilled workers for this particular job in the UK. To apply you must have a minimum of £945 in the bank to prove that you can support yourself in the short term and the salary for the skilled job you have acquired must  be £20,800 minimum.

3. How do I apply for a Tier 2 dependent visa?

Family members can come to the UK on a Tier 2 visa on the basis that they are a husband, wife or partner, a child under 18 years of age or a child over 18 on your current visa who has  reached that age whilst on that visa. Family members must apply online at www.gov.uk  whereby the application process is similar to the standard Tier 2 application. However, each family member must show evidence that they have £630 available to them to support  themselves. This is in addition to the £945 a main applicant must also have access to.

4. How do I apply for a Tier 2 sponsorship?

To apply for a Tier 2 sponsorship you must have a certificate of sponsorship from your delegated sponsor. This is essentially a registration number which holds information about  your job and personal details. Your sponsor will provide this number and also other information required to support your visa application. You can only use this reference  number once and it is valid for three months only, so you need to start your visa application  within this time.

5. How do I apply for a visa extension?

Applications for a Tier 2 visa extension can be done online at www.gov.uk and you must  apply before your current visa has expired. You should include all your dependents on the application, including those who have turned 18 during the period covered by your current  visa. You need to be able to meet all previous eligibility criteria, but in addition, you must have the same job as previously, be working for the same employer who assigned the certificate of sponsorship and be earning an appropriate salary as previously. You can extend your visa for up to five years, as long as the total stay is not more than six years.

6. What is the Tier 2 ICT established staff visa?

This is a visa that covers overseas employees who have been offered a role in a UK branch  of an organisation by an overseas employer. As with other Tier 2 visas, you require a licensed sponsor for the application process and no application can be made sooner than  three months prior to your visit to the UK. There are four types of ICT established staff visas: long-term staff (who are applying for a stay period of more than 12 months), short-term staff (for periods up to 12 months), Graduate trainee (for people being transferred on to graduate training programmes in specialist roles) and Skills Transfer (a visa allowing people to gain skills and knowledge needed to perform their role overseas in the UK, or to pass on their skills to UK colleagues).

7. How do I switch from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 visa?

A Tier 4 visa is for students from outside the EEA studying in the UK, and it is possible to  switch from this to a Tier 2 visa when you start in skilled employment. To do this you must have a UK Masters or Bachelors degree, a post-graduate certificate in education or a  professional graduate diploma of education. This qualification must have been obtained at a UK recognised body or an institution that has a Tier 4 sponsor licence. After successfully switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa you can stay in the UK for up to five years. You can apply online at www.gov.uk as an individual or with family members and you will be subject  to normal healthcare surcharges and will be required to submit supporting information. The  process of switching a visa normally takes a little longer than a standard visa application (a decision is promised within eight weeks) but you are entitled to stay in the UK while a  decision is reached, providing your application was started while your previous visa was still valid.

8. What is the average processing time for a Tier 2 visa application?

If you are applying for a visa from outside the UK, it will take up to three weeks for your application to be processed.

If you need help, please contact our Immigration team or call 0113 284 5000.

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