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Tier 2 General Visa

***Please note the Tier 2 General Visa is no longer available. You may wish to look at the skilled worker visa or contact us for alternative options***

Those who had an offer of skilled employment in the UK previously required a Tier 2 General sponsored skilled worker visa. As stated above individuals in this situation should now visit our Skilled Worker visa page as this replaced this route on 1 December 2020 - this page remains on our website for information purposes only.

You must have a Certificate of Sponsorship from an employer holding a Tier 2 licence from the Home Office.

The Tier 2 visa allowed you to work for a named employer in a specific position. Certain Tier 2 visas lead to settlement in the UK after 5 years.

RLegal will guide you through the complex evidential requirements and assist you with your application from start to finish. We have over 20 years experience of lodging successful applications in this and its predecessor categories. We will take the worry out of the process and give you peace of mind.

For more information, please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980 where you can talk to one of our team, email us at or complete our online enquiry form.

Alternatively click on the links below for frequently asked questions.




You will need to show:


- you hold a Certificate of Sponsorship from a licensed employer;


- your salary will be more than £20,800 (if you are considered to be a new entrant, i.e. switching from Tier 4 or under the age of 26), or £30,000 in all other cases. If the minimum level set out in the Standard Occupation Codes (SOC) guidance for your job type is higher than the £20,800 or £30,000 threshold, you must be paid at the higher level defined in the SOC codes;


- you can satisfy minimum English language requirements; and


- you are capable of maintaining yourself in the UK according to a set criteria.


Certificates of Sponsorship can be issued for people who have either a degree level qualification (or higher) or specialist skills acquired through doing the type of job for which the permit is being sought.


Generally the job should be considered to be at NQF level 6 (degree level). Jobs below this skill threshold only qualify for Tier 2 work permission in certain circumstances, for example, jobs in the creative sector must be at level NQF4 or above, or if the employee has previously held work permission for a post at NQF3 prior to 6 April 2010.


An initial visa can be granted for up to 5 years

  • Certificates of Sponsorship can be issued to:


    - Shortage occupations. Certain posts identified by the Home Office in conjunction with the Migration Advisory Committee are deemed to be recognised shortage areas, i.e. where there are insufficient suitably qualified resident workers available to meet the UK’s requirements. The shortage occupation list changes periodically depending upon the prevailing circumstances in the UK economy.


    - Individuals that have either already been retained by the company whilst on other immigration permission or who have gone through a graduate recruitment process (for example, Tier 4 Migrants following the completion of a degree).


    -New hires where the Home Office will usually expect the UK employer to advertise the position in accordance with specified criteria as evidence that there has been a fair test of the resident labour force and are referred to as 'restricted certificates'.


    In some limited circumstances it is possible to request that the advertising restrictions be waived. Jobs paying a salary of more than £159,600 do not require advertising.


    For posts being paid a salary of more than £73,900, an employer must still conduct a resident labour market test but they will be exempt from advertising with Jobsmatch (Jobcentre Plus).


    New hires from outside the UK are subject to an annual quota; these are known as restricted certificates of sponsorship. All other types of certificate are known as unrestricted and are not subject to a quota.


    Unrestricted certificates will be issued to:


    - individuals in a shortage occupation;

    - workers in receipt of a salary of £159,600 or more; 

    - persons switching from the Tier 4 General category under the post-study work provisions after completing a degree or PhD (but not equivalent); and

    - persons changing employer within the UK who already hold Tier 2 General permission.

Tier 2 General, Sportspersons or Ministers of Religion need to satisfy the English language requirement.


You will need to show that you have a good command of the English language. This can be done by:


- being a national of a specified English speaking country;


- holding a degree which was taught in English; or


- passing an approved English language test at CEFR level B1 in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening). This is equivalent to a score of 4.0 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Applicants must be able to demonstrate that they can support themselves and any dependants financially for the entire duration of their stay in the UK without recourse to public funds. In order to show this they must provide evidence of a consistent level of cash funds for a 90-day period.


The maintenance thresholds are:


-£945 for a single applicant plus an additional £630 for each dependant.


A-rated sponsors can certify the maintenance on behalf of an employee and any dependants.

Applicants for a Tier 2 General visa must pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £624 per year in advance for each whole or part year of the visa - see more below under fees.


Outside the UK


Applicants not presently in the UK must apply for a Tier 2 Sponsored Skilled Worker visa to enter the UK in the correct capacity. The application should be lodged at the nearest British overseas post authorised to deal with such matters. The process involves submission of an online application and original specified evidence and attendance at a biometric appointment.


Applicants from certain specified countries may be required to undertake a tuberculosis test. Processing times vary enormously between countries and can be from 1-6 weeks or more.


Inside the UK


For those already in the UK in Tiers 1, 2 or 4 it is possible to apply direct to the Home Office via standard, priority or super-priority service. A super premium service is also available where the Home Office will visit a location of your choosing to take your biometric data.


The process involves submission of an application with specified evidence and attendance at a biometric appointment.


Super priority applications are processed in 1 day.

Priority applications are processed in 5-10 working days.

Standard applications vary but are typically between 2-12 weeks.

Outside the UK


-Tier 2 General £610 (Tier 2 General - under 3 years)


-Tier 2 General £1220 (Tier 2 General - more than 3 years)


-Tier 2 Shortage Occupation £464 (less than 3 years)


-Tier 2 Shortage Occupation £928 (more than 3 years)


Some (but not all) British visa application centres around the world offer a ‘Priority Settlement Service’. This is an additional cost service that will place your application at the front of the processing queue. Use of this service may speed up the processing time for your application, however, the Home Office do not guarantee expedited treatment.


Inside the UK


Tier 2 General - less than 3 years

- Standard application £704 

 - Priority application £1204 

- Super-priority application - £1504


Tier 2 General - more than 3 years

- Standard application £1408

 - Priority application £1908 

- Super-priority application - £2208


Immigration Health Surcharge


Non-EEA nationals need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £400 per year for each year of their prospective stay in the UK.


The IHS is payable even if you have private medical insurance.


Immigration Skills Charge


In addition to the Certificate of Sponsorship, Immigration Health Surcharge and visa fees, there is an additional Immigration Skills Charge which is payable for Tier 2 General and Intra Company Transfer workers coming to the UK for more than 6 months. It is also payable for in-country applicants of less than 6 months duration. 


The Immigration Skills Charge is not payable where the worker being sponsored:

  • has a Tier 4 (Student) visa and is switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa; or
  • has a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee visa; or
  • will do a job with a PhD level standard occupation classification code.


The Immigration Skills Charge is payable at the point of assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship. The amount to be paid depends on the size of the sponsor and the length of visa in question.


Period Small or charitable sponsors Medium or large sponsors
First 12 months £364 £1,000
Each additional 6 months £182 £500


If the worker will be in the UK for longer than 6 months but less than a year, you must pay for at least 12 months.


The full Immigration Skills Charge must be paid in one go at the outset.

If you are still required by your employer and you continue to meet the requirements, you can extend your permission for up to 6 years or longer if you held permission under the rules in place before 6 April 2011.


Applicants must pay an Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year in advance for each whole or part year of the visa.

A Tier 2 Sponsored Skilled Worker can be accompanied by their spouse/civil partner/long term partner and children under the age of 18 to the UK.


Each dependant must pay an Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year in advance for each whole or part year of the visa.


Dependants will be granted permission to stay in the UK in line with the main applicant.

Once a Tier 2 General worker has completed 5 years continuous lawful stay In this category, they can apply for settlement provided that they are still required for the employment in question and that they are paid at or above the appropriate specified salary as defined by the Standard Occupation Codes.


A worker applying for indefinite leave to remain must earn £36,200 or more at the point of application for ILR (£35,800 before if the application is before 6 April 2020). The income requirement increases every April and will to the following levels over the next few years:

£37,900 after 6 April 2022

£38,800 after 6 April 2023

£40,100 after 6 April 2024


If your absences exceed the permitted limits, you can still apply for an extension of permission subject to a maximum permitted stay in Tier 2 General of 6 years.


Changes to the Immigration Rules introduced in January 2018 restrict workers to a maximum aggregated absence of 180 days in any 12 month rolling period throughout the qualifying 5 year Tier 2 residence. Whereas previously absences were calculated counting backwards from the date of application, this is no longer the case and could present an obstacle to ILR for individuals required to travel frequently for business.

- Comprehensive legal advice.


- Ensuring your application meets the legal requirements.


- Assistance with compiling the evidence required for this category.


- Completion and submission of all forms.


- Booking a biometric appointment.


- Ongoing liaison with the authorities where possible.


As stated above this page is only for information purposes. Individuals who hold permission in this category should go to our Skilled Worker visa page.

To find out more about Tier 2 General visas or other work related options, please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980, email us at or use our online form.

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