News and communications from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

08 December 2019

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Tier 2 (General)

Tier 2 (General)

Tier 2 replaced the Work Permits regime in November of 2008. It enables UK-based employers to sponsor people from outside the EEA to come and work in the UK.

Applicants for entry clearance are subject to an annual limit. This is achieved by UKV&I limiting the amount of COSs which sponsors can issue in any one month. The limit for the year ending on 5 April 2014 is 20,700 Certificates of Sponsorship.

The limit is broken down into monthly allocations. Employers wishing to sponsor Tier 2 (General) applicants therefore have to apply to UKV&I for a proportion of the monthly allocation. A further points-scoring system has been established to determine which employers will succeed in obtaining Certificates of Sponsorship at each monthly allocation.

Applications for leave to remain in the UK are not subject to any limit. Neither are applications for entry clearance if the applicant is to earn £153,500 or more annually.

To succeed in their applications all applicants must be sponsored to do work for which they will be paid a minimum salary of £20,500. Moreover the level of salaries must be consistent with the UKV&I's published Standard Occupational Code of practice (“SOC”) relevant to defined areas of work.

UKV&I also publishes a list of "shortage occupations”. People who intend to work in these areas do not need to satisfy a "resident labour market test”.

Certificates of Sponsorship issued to applicants seeking to work in the UK in areas outside the shortage occupations must indicate that a resident labour market test has been carried out to demonstrate that there is no domestic labour available to fill the proposed employment. UKV&I's SOC codes of practice determine the salary level at which any job must be advertised in order to comply with the necessary resident labour market test.

The SOC also stipulate the mediums in which a particular job must be advertised, although since April of 2009 UKV&I has required all jobs to also be advertised in Jobcentre Plus.  From 6th April 2014 jobs commanding a salary of £71,600 or above do not need to be advertised on JobCentrePlus however the vacancy will still need to be advertised in one other medium as indicated under the SOC.

Tier 2 (General) migrants seeking to extend their leave to remain and who are continuing to work for the same employer similarly do not have to satisfy a resident labour market test.

All applicants must also satisfy an English language requirement, demonstrating that they have a command of English at an "intermediate” level.

All applicants must satisfy a maintenance requirement. Applicants whose Tier 2 sponsors certify in the Certificate of Sponsorship that they will if necessary maintain and accommodate the applicant for the first month of the applicant’s employment are exempt from this requirement, as are applicants seeking to extend their existing leave to remain under Tier 2.

There are detailed transitional arrangements whereby Tier 2 (General) migrants, and those in the immigration categories which preceded Tier 2 (such as Work Permit Holders) who are already in the UK under the Immigration Rules in place before 6 April 2011 are able to apply to extend their stay without being subject to the annual limit, the new graduate-level job requirement, the new salary threshold, or the new English language level. This applies whether they are extending with the same employer or changing employers.

The amount of leave to remain given to successful applicants for further leave to remain varies according to the nature of the applicant’s previous leave to remain. Applicants who previously had leave to remain under the immigration categories which preceded Tier 2 will generally be given sufficient leave to remain to take their aggregated leave to remain to a total of 5 years. Where the applicant is a Tier 2 migrant and is working for the same employer and doing the same job as he or she was doing when previously granted leave, the amount of leave to remain will be for the period of employment plus 14 days up to a maximum of 2 years. From 6th April 2014 new Tier 2 General Migrants can apply for leave to enter the UK for 5 years.

Applicants granted leave to enter or remain must not have recourse to public funds and must not work for any other employer other than their Tier 2 sponsor.