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What is a Tier 2 visa?

Tier 2 of the Points-Based System is the primary method of economic migration to the UK.
The Tier 2 visa is a non-EEA visa for skilled migrants. There are several types, which are explained below.

As we leave the EU, the right of EU nationals to remain and work in the UK is under threat. The former Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has said that EU citizens will have no automatic right to work after Brexit, although he has not commented on whether highly skilled workers will be able to work without applying for a visa, or whether employers will need a license in order to employ EU citizens. Jacob Rees-Mogg has said that EU nationals will not have more rights than those from outside the EU after Brexit, stating “I do not believe there should be any special terms for EU migrants.” As a result, many EU nationals working in the UK may have to apply as a Tier 2 skilled worker. Read more about EU nationals below.

What are the categories?

There are 4 main categories of Tier 2 visa, including:

  1. General Tier 2 visa, for skilled workers in a position that cannot be filled by a settled worker;
  2. Intra-company transfers, including long-term staff and graduate trainees;
  3. Sportsperson; and
  4. Minister of Religion.

How long can I stay?

Under Tier 2, you can apply for Entry Clearance or for Leave to Remain. For Entry Clearance applications, you can arrive in the UK up to 14 days before your start date. The Entry Clearance will be granted for the following lengths of time:

  1. With a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa as a Long-Term Staff member, you can come to the UK for whichever is the shorter of i) the period of the employment contract plus 1 month or ii) 5 years plus 1 month based on the job start date.
  2. With a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa as a Graduate Trainee, you can come to the UK for whichever is the shorter of i) the period of the employment contract plus 1 month or ii) 12 months based on the job start date.
  3. With a Tier 2 (General) visa, you can come to the UK for whichever is the shorter of i)  the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus one month or ii) 5 years and 1 month.
  4. With a Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa or a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa, you can come to the UK for whichever is shorter between i) the period of your employment contract plus 1 month, or ii) 3 years plus 1 month based on the job start date.

How long does a Tier 2 application take?

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you start working in the UK. The decision should take about 3 weeks.
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What is a sponsorship licence?

A sponsorship licence is permission to employ someone to work for you from outside the UK.  

Who needs to be sponsored?

An employer will need to sponsor any overseas worker who they wish to employ if they are not “settled workers” or do not have an appropriate immigration permission to work in the UK.  

Who are settled workers?

A settled worker is

  1. British citizen
  2. Irish citizen
  3. EU citizen who has permission to remain under the EUSS 
  4. Commonwealth citizens with the right of abode in the UK or Commonwealth citizens with UK ancestry visas. 
  5. You also do not need permission to work if a person has immigration permission to be in the UK that does not prevent them from working such as a spouse.  A person with permission to be a student may be allowed to work for 10 or 20 hours per week during term time depending on the type of course they are following. 

How do I apply for a sponsorship licence?

You need to make an application using the correct application form. Please pay careful attention to Appendix A the supporting documents for sponsor licence applications. This appendix is to be used for all sponsor licence applications made or decided after 11th October 2021.  Below you will find a link to the Appendix which informs you which documents you need. 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1022485/Sponsor-guidance_Appendix-A_10-21.pdf 

How do I know if the job is suitable for sponsorship?

As a sponsor you can sponsor a worker if the job they are going to be doing has a suitable rate of pay and skill level or meets the other criteria needed for the visa.  The minimum salary for the type of work one is doing is the highest of three options 

  1. £25,600 per year or £10.10 per hour or the going rate for the type of work the employee will be doing. Before you can find out if the job offer is eligible you need to find out the four digit occupation code.  To search for the occupation code you click on the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/skilled-worker-visa-eligible-occupations/skilled-worker-visa-eligible-occupations-and-codes 

What if I want to employ a person in he healthcare or education sector

There are different salary rules and the salary must be at least £20,480 or more if the job’s going rate is higher. 

What if the job is on the shortage occupation list?

If the job is on the shortage occupation list the employer will pay a lower application fee and below you will find a list of the healthcare and education shortage occupations.

What is an immigration skills charge?

The sponsor must have paid an immigration skills charge which applies to the application. 

Does one need to pass an English test?

An applicant must score 10 points for English language skills equivalent to level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for English Language in all four components, reading, writing, speaking and listening.

How will Brexit affect Tier 2 applications?

There are currently about 2.3 million EU nationals working in the UK. Brexit means that EU nationals may need to apply as a Tier 2 skilled worker after we have left the European Union. However, only about 30,000 businesses in the UK have a licence to sponsor Tier 2 applications.

We cannot predict the future, and so we cannot say for sure whether EU nationals will have to apply under Tier 2. There is currently a cap on the number of Tier 2 migrants that can be accepted. This cap (20,700 per year) is often hit, putting serious pressure on the NHS. This will only grow after Brexit. Therefore, the rules for non-EEA national skilled workers may change after Brexit, and there may be a special system put in place for EU nationals currently in the UK. Applying Tier 2 visas to EU nationals may be the simplest solution. There has been a concerted effort to reduce the number of Tier 2 visas given by the Government, but if EU nationals were also included, the cap would have to be increased, and the salary requirements may need to be changed too. Further, the licence for businesses to sponsor applications may need to be re-thought, for example there may need to be a separate licence for EEA nationals and non-EEA nationals, so that more businesses can sponsor Tier 2 applications.

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If you have any questions about the process or would like to apply for a visa please contact Danielle on 020 7267 4133. Danielle will only charge you for the first consultation if you decide to become her client and if she can assist you.

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