UK work visa: Tier 2 (General) Workers

UK work visa: Tier 2 (General) workers

SUMMARY

The Tier 2 (General) category is for foreign nationals who have been offered a skilled job to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker.

Before you apply, you must read the Tier 2 policy guidance here, and calculate your points using the points based calculator here.

Limit on Tier 2 (General) workers applying from abroad

For the year from 6 April 2012 to 5 April 2013, a maximum of 20,700 skilled workers can come to the UK under Tier 2 (General) to do jobs with an annual salary below £150,000.

There is no limit on the number of workers coming to the UK to do jobs with an annual salary of £150,000 or above.

Do you need a Tier 2 visa to come to the UK?

Tier 2 is part of our points-based system, which is for migrants from outside Europe. You do not need to apply under the points-based system if:

  • you are a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland – the European nationals section describes your right to work in the UK;
  • you are a British overseas territories citizen, unless you are from one of the sovereign base areas in Cyprus;
  • you are a Commonwealth citizen with permission to enter or stay in the UK because at least one of your grandparents was born here – the UK ancestry section on the UKBA website explains how you can apply;
  • your partner or (if you are under 18) one of your parents has permission to stay in the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based system – you should apply as their dependant; or
  • you have no conditions or time limit attached to your stay.

What are the requirements for a Tier 2 visa?

This section explains the requirements that you must meet if you want to come to or remain in the UK as a skilled worker under Tier 2 (General) of the points-based system.

To be able to apply, you must score a total of 70 points and meet all the other requirements of the Immigration Rules. You must score 50 points for “Attributes”, 10 points for “English Language Ability” and 10 points for “Maintenance”.

 

DETAIL

Points for your attributes

You must score 50 points for having a Tier 2 (General) certificate of sponsorship, and for being paid an appropriate salary. These are known as your ‘attributes’. The certificate of sponsorship is issued by your employer. It is not an actual certificate or paper document, but is a unique reference number, which holds information about the job and your personal details. Your sponsor will give you your certificate of sponsorship reference number. They will also need to give you some of the information they used to assign the certificate for you to use the point-based calculator and apply, for example, the wage of the job. The certificate of sponsorship will run out if it is not used by you to apply within 3 months of the sponsor assigning it to you. If you apply using a certificate of sponsorship that has run out, your application will be refused. You must get a new certificate of sponsorship from your sponsor.

Points are available for your attributes as follows:

30 points

You can score 30 points for having a Tier 2 (General) certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor. When assigning your certificate, your sponsor will indicate whether they are assigning it because:

  • the job has an annual salary of £150,000 or more; or
  • the job is on the shortage occupation list; or
  • your sponsor has completed a resident labour market test (or an exemption applies); or
  • if you are already here under Tier 2 (General) and you are applying extend your stay, you will working for the same sponsor in the same job.

You should ask your sponsor to tell you the basis on which they assigned the certificate.

20 points

You score an additional 20 points if your annual salary and allowances before tax (gross) are:

£20,000 or more, or under £20,000 and you have or last had permission to stay in the UK as

  • a Tier 2 (General) migrant under the Immigration Rules in place before 6 April 2011;
  • a Jewish agency employee;
  • member of the operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline;
  • a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order;
  • a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation; or

0 points

You score 0 points if your income is less than £20,000 and you do not fall into one of the categories above.

 

Points for your English language ability

You must score 10 points for English language ability.

You can score points if you:

  • are a national of a majority English-speaking country; or
  • pass an English language test on our list of approved English language tests; or
  • hold a degree that was taught in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree.

You will meet the English language requirement automatically and score points without having to send further evidence if:

  • you have previously been given permission to stay under Tier 1 (General) or Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), or as a businessperson, a work permit holder, a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation, a member of the operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline, or a Jewish agency employee;
  • you were given permission to stay under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme after 7 November 2006;
  • you were given permission to stay in the past under Tier 2, have already given us evidence that you meet the Tier 2 English language requirement, and are applying to extend your stay;
  • you are applying because you have changed jobs, and you have already given us evidence that you meet the Tier 2 English language requirement; or
  • you are applying because you have changed jobs, and you have been given permission to stay in the past as a minister of religion on or after 23 August 2004.

If you are a national of a majority English-speaking country

We will award you 10 points for English language if you are a national of a majority English-speaking country listed below:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

If you have passed or are taking an English language test

You must have 10 points for English language. These will be awarded if you pass a test, at the appropriate level, which is on our list of approved English language tests. You can download the list of approved English language tests from the right side of this page.

Only test certificates from providers on this list will be accepted.

For applications under Tier 2 (General), the minimum appropriate level is level B1 of the Common European Framework for Reference (CEFR).

For applications under Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) or Tier 2 (Sportsperson), the minimum appropriate level is level A1 of the CEFR.

If you have a disability (for example, hearing difficulties), you are not exempt from the English language requirement. You should contact a test provider for details of the support that you can receive while you take the test.

If you have a degree taught in English

We will award you 10 points for English language if you have a degree which is the same as a UK bachelor’s degree and which was taught or researched in English to a particular level.

The qualification must:

  • be recognised by National Academic Recognition Information Centre for the UK (UK NARIC) as equivalent to at least a UK bachelor’s degree; and
  • have been taught in English.

We assume that a degree was taken in a majority English speaking country listed below will have been taught in English:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • the UK
  • the United States of America

Canada is not on this list.

If the degree was taken in another country, we assess your qualification using the points-based calculator, which you can find on the right of this page. The calculator contains information on whether overseas qualifications are the same as a UK bachelor’s level or higher provided by UK NARIC.

You can score points if the points-based calculator confirms that:

  • your degree is the same level as a UK bachelor’s degree; and
  • the degree was taught to a competent standard of English equivalent to level C1 on the Common European Framework for Reference (CEFR).

Checking qualifications

You should check your qualification by using the points-based calculator, which you can find on the right of this page.

If you cannot find your qualification, you can contact UK NARIC, who you can find on the right of this page, and ask them to confirm the level of your qualification in a letter. But they can only confirm your qualification is the same as a UK bachelor’s degree level or above, and not that the degree was taught in English.

If you cannot find your qualification on the points-based calculator, you must send a letter with your application from your university confirming your degree was taught in English.

 

Points for maintenance (funds)

You must score 10 points for maintenance (funds).

You will automatically score 10 points for maintenance if you are currently in the UK in one of the following immigration categories:

  • any Tier 2 category
  • work permit holder
  • Jewish agency employee
  • member of the operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline
  • minister of religion, missionary, or member of a religious order
  • representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation

Alternatively, you will score 10 points if you can provide evidence that:

  • you have £900 in personal savings, which has been in your bank account for a continuous 90-day period ending no more than 31 days before the date of your application; or
  • your sponsor has an A rating and has confirmed in your certificate of sponsorship that it will maintain and accommodate you (to a level of £800 or more) until the end of your first month of employment in the UK if required.

If you want to use savings in a joint account as evidence of available funds, you must be named on the account with one or more other people.

If the funds are in a currency other than pounds sterling, we will calculate their value based on the exchange rate published on the OANDA website on the date of your application.

Your savings must be in the form of cash funds held in an account (including a savings account or current account where notice must be given). Other accounts or financial instruments such as shares, bonds and pension funds are not acceptable.

If you earned any money during a time when you were in breach of the UK’s immigration laws, we will not include this money as evidence of your funds.

 

What documents do I need to send?

If you do not give UKBA all the documents we need when you apply and send your application form, they may refuse your application because you have not sent enough documents, and your fee will not be refunded.

You do not need to send any evidence of sponsorship as your sponsorship is confirmed in your certificate of sponsorship, and you must give your reference number when you apply.

Sending original documents

You must send the original documents, not copies.

Translated documents

If a document is not in English or Welsh, you must send the original with a full translation that can be independently verified by UKBA. This translation must include details of the translator’s credentials, and confirmation that it is an accurate translation of the original document. It must also be dated and include the original signature of the translator.

Evidence of Certificate of Sponsorship. You must give UKBA the reference number.

Evidence of your language ability

National of a majority English-speaking country

If you are a national of a majority English-speaking country, you must send your current original passport or travel document.

If you are inside the UK, and are unable to send your current original passport or travel document at the time you apply, you must give full reasons under the passport information section of the application form. You cannot send alternative specified documents, unless your current passport or travel document has:

  • been lost;
  • been stolen;
  • expired – returned to national authorities; or
  • submitted to another part of the UK Border Agency.

The alternative specified documents you must send in the exceptional circumstances above are:

  • your current national identity document; or
  • an original letter from your home government or embassy.

This document must be original, on the headed paper of the government or embassy and must have the official stamp of that institution. It must have been issued by an authorised official of that institution and must confirm:

  • your full name;
  • your date of birth; and
  • your nationality.

English language test

If you have passed an English language test, you must send your certificate. The original test result certificate must clearly show:

  • your name;
  • the qualification obtained; and
  • the date of the award.

Degree taught in English

If you have been awarded a qualification that was taught in English, you must send the original certificate of award.This must be on the institution’s official headed paper, and must clearly show:

  • your name;
  • the title of the award;
  • the date of the award; and
  • the name of the awarding institution.

We will not accept original provisional certificates.

If you have successfully completed a degree course taught in English but you are awaiting graduation, you must send the original academic transcript. This must be on the institution’s official headed paper, and must clearly show:

  • your name;
  • the name of the academic institution;
  • the course title; and
  • confirmation of the award.

If you have lost your original certificate of award, and the institution that issued it cannot issue a replacement, we will accept the original academic reference. This must be on the institution’s official headed paper, and must clearly show:

  • your name;
  • the title of the award;
  • the date of the award, confirming that it has been awarded; and
  • confirmation that the institution cannot re-issue the original certificate of award.

Additional requirements

If your degree was not taught in a majority English speaking country and is not listed on our points calculator, you must also provide:

  • an original letter and/or certificate from UK NARIC confirming the equivalent level of your degree course; and
  • a letter from the academic institution that awarded the qualification.

The letter from the academic institution must be original, issued by the awarding institution on its official headed paper, and clearly show:

  • your name;
  • the title of the award;
  • the date of the award; and
  • confirmation that the degree was taught in English.

Evidence of Maintenance

If your A-rated sponsor is certifying that it will maintain and accommodate you if necessary for your first month of employment, this must be confirmed on your certificate of sponsorship.

Otherwise, and if you are not scoring points automatically for maintenance, you must provide documents showing that you have had at least £800 in your account at all times over the 90-day period before you apply to us.

The documents must be original, on the official letter-headed paper or stationery of the organisation and have the official stamp of that organisation. They must have been issued by an authorised official of that organisation.

Evidence must be in the form of cash funds. Other accounts or financial instruments (such as shares, bonds and pension funds), regardless of notice, are not acceptable.

If you wish to rely on a joint account as evidence of available funds, you must be named on the account along with one or more other named individuals.

Personal bank or building society statements covering the 90 days before you apply

The personal bank or building society statements should clearly show:

  • your name;
  • the account number;
  • the date of the statement;
  • the financial institution’s name and logo;
  • transactions covering the 90-day period;
  • that there are enough funds present in the account.

The most recent statement must be dated within 31 days.

If you want to send electronic bank statements from an online account, these must contain all of the details listed above. They must bear the official stamp of the bank on every page, or you must also provide a supporting letter from your bank, on company headed paper, confirming the authenticity of the statements sent.

The balance must show that you have had at least £900 in your account at all times over the 90-day period, and we will not accept a document that shows the funds on 1 day only.

Building society pass-book covering the previous 90 days before you apply

The building society pass-book should clearly show:

  • your name;
  • the account number;
  • the financial institution’s name and logo;
  • transactions covering the 90-day period;
  • that there has been enough money (£900) present in the account for the past 90 days.

The balance must show that you have had at least £900 in your account at all times over the 90-day period, and we will not accept a document that shows the funds on 1 day only.

Letter from bank confirming funds and that they have been in your account for at least 90 days.

The letter from a bank or building society should state:

  • your name;
  • the account number;
  • the date of the letter;
  • the financial institution’s name and logo;
  • the funds held in your account; and
  • that enough funds (£900) have been in the bank for at least 90 days.

The balance must show that you have had at least £800 in your account at all times over the 90-day period, and we will not accept a document that shows the funds on 1 day only.

Letter from financial institution regulated by either the Financial Services Authority or the home regulator confirming funds

The letter from the financial institution regulated by the Financial Services Authority or the home regulator should state:

  • your name;
  • the account number;
  • the date of the letter;
  • the financial institution’s name and logo;
  • the funds held in your account; and
  • that the funds (£900) have been in the bank for at least 90 days.

The balance must show that you have had at least £900 in your account at all times over the 90-day period, and we will not accept a document that shows the funds on 1 day only.

The home regulator is the official regulatory body for the country in which the institution operates and the funds are located.

How we assess maintenance evidence for online bank accounts

Accounts held with internet-based banks

For the purpose of the points-based system, an online bank account is one that operates over the internet only and sends your bank statements to you electronically (for example, through the internet or by email).

If you wish to use electronic bank statements from an online bank account as evidence, these statements must always be accompanied by a supporting letter from the bank, on its company headed paper, confirming the authenticity of the statements.

Accounts held with other banks

If you have a bank account that does not operate exclusively online but you receive your bank statements electronically, and you wish to use these statements as evidence of funds for maintenance, you should provide:

  • electronic bank statements printed at the bank on its official stationary; or
  • electronic statements printed by you and bearing the bank’s official stamp on every page; or
  • a supporting letter from the bank, on the bank’s company headed paper, confirming the authenticity of the statements.

All evidence must meet the requirements listed in the Tier 2 policy guidance.  Mini-statements from cash points are not acceptable as evidence.

What else do I need to send?

The application form (VAF9), which depending on the country you are applying in needs to be completed on-line, or in paper format. For on-line applications click here, for the paper form VAF9 click here.

All applicants must also complete a paper form VAF9 Appendix 5. This must always be completed in paper format, irrespective of where you submit your application. You can find this form here.

Your passport

A recent passport-sized photograph. For photo specifications, click here.

Processing fees. For processing fees, please click here.

For information on where and how to submit your application and how to pay the fees, please click the country finder here.

 

Please remember that immigration rules are subject to continuous change. The above information has been collated for informative purposes only. Before submitting any visa application, you must consult the relevant authorities direct for up-to-date information. The text above is an adaptation of the contents of the UKBA website as of 10 September 2012.

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