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What is the Tier 2 General visa?
***Please note that the regulations relating to Tier 2 General visa have changed on 1 December 2020. See our page on the Skilled Worker visa to find out more about the changes. ***
The Tier 2 General visa allows overseas migrants who have been offered a skilled job to come to the UK for employment purposes. Individuals are eligible for this visa if they are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland and if their employer holds a valid Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence from the Home Office, which will allow them to assign to the migrant a Certificate of Sponsorship reference number.
Individuals can apply to come to the UK under this visa route for a period of 5 years and 14 days, or the time specified by the sponsor on the Certificate of Sponsorship plus 1 month, whichever is shorter.
An applicant may come to the UK 14 days before the start date on their Certificate of Sponsorship. It is possible to extend the Tier 2 General visa as long as the total duration does not exceed 6 years.
Whilst in the UK, an applicant may perform supplementary work of up to 20 hours per week if it is in the same profession as the employment that the visa was obtained for and on the same level of qualifications/skills/expertise, or if the profession is on the shortage occupation list found in Immigration Rules Appendix K. However, applicants are not allowed to apply for a second job until they have started working for their first sponsor. It is also possible to do voluntary work and study.
If granted, applicants can bring their spouse and children with them to the UK according to the PBS Dependant Policy Guidance. Applicants are also allowed to travel outside UK and return. However, they are not allowed to own more than 10% of the sponsor’s share except if they earn more than £159,600 a year. They are denied recourse to public funds in the UK.
The main requirements
In order for an applicant to acquire the Tier 2 General visa, certain requirements must be met. In addition to the employer being a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence holder, the role that a migrant worker is supposed to be filling must be a genuine vacancy. A genuine vacancy is defined by the Home Office as of one which requires the jobholder to perform the specific duties and responsibilities for the job and meets all of the requirements of the Tier and category; it must not include dissimilar and/or lower-skilled duties.
Applicants must possess the suitable skills and experience for the role and be paid an appropriate salary. They must prove their knowledge of the English language by having at least a level B1 in the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) in speaking, writing, reading and listening or alternatively, have an academic qualification which was taught in English and is recognised by the UK NARIC.
Applicants must also demonstrate that they have sufficient personal savings and are able to maintain themselves upon arrival to the UK. They must have a minimum of £945 of savings three months prior to applying if the sponsor has not certified a maintenance.
How can NA Law Solicitors help with a Tier 2 General visa application?
At NA Law Solicitors, we will ensure that your application is prepared according to the highest standards and with the necessary attention to detail in order avoid refusal from the Home Office, which reviews Tier 2 General visa application thoroughly. We will assist you in every step of your application and give guidance with a successful outcome in mind. We can also help with the Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence application process, Tier 2 sponsor duties, applying for a Tier 2 COS application, the genuine vacancy test and Tier 2 sponsorship licence application renewal process. Please get in touch for an initial assessment.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
You need a sponsorship licence if you plan on hiring employees from outside the EEA.
To meet the requirements, you must:
- be a genuine business or sole-trader which is legally operating in the UK.
- be able to demonstrate a genuine need for migrant workers.
- have no unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences, money laundering, or fraud.
- not pose any kind of threat to the UK via your company or any of its personnel.
- not have a history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties.
- have organised HR systems and records.
The Home Office fee depends on the type of business you have. For small businesses and charities the Tier 2 sponsorship fee is £536. For medium and large businesses the Tier 2 sponsorship fee is £1476. You are a small business if you have an annual turnover of £10.2 million and less than 50 employees.
Some of the most common reasons for Tier 2 sponsor visa rejection are:
- Non-compliance with the Home Office security standards
- Failing the genuineness test
- Failing to retain documentation on sponsored migrant workers
The Home Office will award you with a license rating. Your business will be placed on the UK Sponsorship Licence register. You will be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship. Your license will be valid for 4 years.
Applying for a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence is a lengthy and complex process. NA Law Solicitors can assist with your business immigration needs by managing the entire Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence application process. We can help you adhere to your duties as a Tier 2 sponsor and steer you towards a successful outcome. Subsequently, NA Law can assist with the following:
- Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence applications
- Audit existing HR and record keeping systems
- Acting as a key contact and/or level 1 user for your Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence
- Advising on Right to Work checks as set out by the Home Office guidance
- Applying for a restricted or unrestricted CoS and assigning it to the relevant workers
- Advising on how to deal with closure notices and civil penalty notices
- Assisting multi-nationals to bring their overseas staff to the UK via the Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer visa route
- Advising on Brexit-related issues faced by EEA national workers
- Advising on all other corporate immigration matters
During the sponsor licence application, the Home Office may come to conduct a compliance visit at the company premises. Our specialist team at NA Law Solicitors can conduct a mock audit for you. This will decrease the chance of an unsuccessful sponsor licence. Contact us for further information, advice or guidance.
Most applications are dealt with within 4 weeks. UKVI will contact the applicant once a decision is made.
Prior to making a decision on a Student sponsorship licence application or as a means to ensure a sponsor is adhering to its Student sponsor duties, UKVI may make an unannounced visit to inspect the sponsor’s HR policies and confirm they have sufficient measures in place to fulfil their obligations.