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What is a Tier 2 (General) visa?

A Tier 2 (General) visa is for individuals who have an offer of a skilled job in the UK that will not displace a suitable settled worker. Employers cannot offer a job to a non-settled worker if it means that a suitable settled worker will be turned down for the job or made redundant.

This category includes applicants coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations as defined on the Home Office’s Shortage Occupation List.

This visa route provides the opportunity for individuals to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK after having spent a continuous period of 5 years lawfully in the UK.

What criteria must I meet to be eligible for a Tier 2 (General) visa?

All of the following criteria must be met in order to successfully qualify for a Tier 2 (General) visa:

  • You must have a job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from an organisation that is licensed to sponsor migrants under Tier 2 of the Points-Based System as listed on the Home Office’s Register of Sponsors
  • The job must be skilled to at least Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Level 6, or be a creative sector occupation skilled to at least RQF Level 4
  • You must be paid the appropriate salary rate for the job. You’ll usually need to be paid at least £30,000 per year or the ‘appropriate rate’ for the job you’re offered - whichever is higher
  • You must not own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares, directly or indirectly, if the sponsor is a limited company, unless you will earn £159,600 or more for your UK role
  • You must satisfy a basic English language requirement in reading, writing, speaking and listening to at least level B1 of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for Language Learning
  • You must have £945 in your bank account for 90 days before you apply to prove you can support yourself. You do not need to evidence this if you have a fully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor who can certify your maintenance

Is there an annual limit on the number of individuals who can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa?

There is an annual limit of 20,700 Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) available to sponsors under Tier 2 (General). The limit runs from 6 April each year to 5 April the following year.

The limit applies to individuals who are applying for entry clearance (a visa) to the UK from overseas.

The following individuals are exempt from this 20,700 limit:

  • High value inward investment posts
  • High earners - where the gross annual salary for the UK job is £159,600 or above
  • All applications by individuals who are applying from within the UK, including those extending their stay in Tier 2, changing employer, or switching immigration category
  • Medical Practitioners and Nurses
  • PhD level occupations (as defined by the Home Office)

Is the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) required for a Tier 2 (General) visa?

Unless an exemption applies, all jobs must be advertised to settled workers for 28 calendar days. This is called the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).

You must place two advertisements containing all of the Home Office’s mandatory information on Home Office approved advertising mediums. Specifically, all jobs must be advertised online to settled workers through the relevant online government job-search service ‘Find A Job’ unless an exemption applies.

It is imperative that each of the two advertisements are placed compliantly with the Home Office’s guidance and accurately in accordance with the actual terms of the UK role. For example, the salary rate in the advertisements must be a true reflection of what you are prepared to pay and the rate you ultimately pay must be in line with the rate that was advertised. Otherwise, the individual’s Tier 2 (General) visa could be refused or revoked.

When is the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) not required for a Tier 2 (General) visa?

You do not have to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) before you can assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) under Tier 2 (General) if one of the following exemptions applies:

  • Shortage occupation as defined on the Home Office’s Shortage Occupation List
  • Continuing to work in the same occupation for the same sponsor
  • Tier 4 (Students) switching to Tier 2 (General) visa status from within the UK
  • High value inward investment posts
  • High earners - where the gross annual salary for the UK job is £159,600 or above
  • Postgraduate doctors and dentists in speciality training

How long is a Tier 2 (General) visa valid for?

The visa can be granted for a maximum initial period not exceeding 5 years after which the visa can be extended for a further 1 year. The maximum amount of time which can be spent in the UK with Tier 2 (General) visa status is 6 years.

Can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as a Tier 2 (General) visa holder?

The Tier 2 (General) visa route provides the opportunity to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK after having spent a continuous period of 5 years lawfully in the UK.

How long will my Tier 2 (General) visa application take to process – outside of the UK?

Typically, a decision is made within 15 working days.

However, if you pay for the Priority Visa Service which is £220, your application will be placed at the front of the queue for priority processing and most people get a decision within 5 working days.

If you pay for the Super Priority Visa Service which is £956, your application can be processed within 24 hours (subject to availability in the country of application submission).

How long will my Tier 2 (General) visa application take to process – inside of the UK?

If you apply from within the UK, the application can take 8 weeks to process.

However, if you pay for the Priority Visa Service which is £500, your application will be placed at the front of the queue for priority processing and most people get a decision within 10 working days.

If you pay for the Super Priority Visa Service which is £800, your application can be processed by the next working day.

Why use Setfords for Tier 2 (General) visa matters?

  • Expert legal advice specific to your matter
  • Excellent technical knowledge of all aspects of Tier 2 (General) visa applications
  • Extensive experience in assisting with the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) process and in ensuring that all advertisements are placed compliantly with Home Office guidance
  • Cost effective service with upfront fixed fees so that clients know what to expect
  • Being able to contact your lawyer out of office hours
  • Unwavering commitment to delivering excellent client care
  • Meticulous preparation of all paperwork and supporting documentation to expedite the approval process

We are happy to answer your enquiry by email or on the telephone and can do so outside office hours if you prefer. To receive more information, please complete the form below or call our enquiries team on 0330 058 4011.

Lawyer spotlight: Nicola Anne Wilkins

Consultant Solicitor - Business and Personal UK Immigration Law

Quotes from previous clients

“I would highly recommend Nicola’s services to anyone looking for a streamlined UK visa immigration process. Nicola has been greatly supportive, every step of the way over the past few years with helping me obtain my Tier 2 sponsored visa twice and my permanent residency for the UK. She is extremely knowledgeable, professional, patient and a pleasure to work with. I will always turn to Nicola for any visa support in the future”.

“Nicola helped me to secure my work visa for the UK with ease, and, most importantly, clearly communicated the entire process so that I knew what to expect and could plan without stress. Nicola handled my case very professionally, and I found Nicola to be extremely competent”.

“Nicola was fantastic and helped us secure work visas for two employees from different countries. Nicola made the whole process completely painless and felt like an extended member of our team. I cannot recommend Nicola highly enough and we will 100% be using her for any further UK visa needs”.

“I had the opportunity to work with Nicola during my Tier 2 work visa application process. Nicola demonstrated excellent knowledge, professionalism and attention to detail and made the entire process of preparing and applying for the visa as easy and stress free as possible. The process was extremely well planned and as a result, I had my visa processed and returned to me in record time. Nicola is also a great communicator and kept me updated at every step of the way so that I felt confident and supported. Overall, I am very impressed with Nicola's professionalism and I will be using Nicola's services again in the future, and will recommend her to my colleagues when the opportunity arises”.

To receive more information, please complete the form below or telephone Nicola on direct line 020 8103 2006.